Thursday, June 13, 2024

A diner eats at Clover in Cambridge’s Central Square on May 19, 2021. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Clover chain of eateries has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection so it can restructure around underperforming locations.

The Friday filing blames Covid for slowed sales, and also difficulties working out new lease arrangements at poorly performing locations. “While we’ve seen a steady recovery in sales, they are still below pre-pandemic levels,” the chain said in a press release made available Monday.

The bankruptcy filing in Delaware says Clover will restructure and end leases on locations where sales don’t make up for above-market rents. WBUR said on Monday that the filing also called for selling some delivery vehicles and eliminating less-profitable business lines.

“This type of restructuring is specifically designed to help small businesses like ours keep operating and emerge from bankruptcy fiscally healthier in a shorter period,” Clover said in its emailed press release.

The chain started as a food truck at MIT in 2008 and grew into a dozen Massachusetts bricks-and-mortar restaurants serving the locally sourced vegetarian fast food – the vegetarian aspect is downplayed – in Cambridge and Somerville, Boston, Brookline, Burlington, Sudbury and Westford. Cambridge and Somerville account for six of the restaurants.

During the Covid pandemic, Clover focused on delivered meal boxes with themes ranging from pop culture such as “Star Wars” to specific holidays or Brussels sprout season. They often sell out. “Customers’ continued support for Clover – eating in our restaurants, ordering a home-delivered meal box – also benefits our expansive network of local farmers and food producers, many of whom rely on Clover’s business,” the company said in its press release.

Clover closed its Back Bay location in August and has cited at least two more problematic addresses. Clover’s press office was asked Monday for what locations may be affected. “We are continuing to evaluate all of our options with our professionals, but we expect the company to look similar to its current state,” said Clover’s chief marketing officer, Kiernan Schmitt.

Commonwealth closes

In other area restaurant news, Commonwealth, a casual upscale restaurant in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, closed permanently Saturday. The closing was announced Oct. 19 by founder Steve “Nookie” Postal. Commonwealth opened in 2013; Postal is now focused on his expanding Revival Cafe & Kitchen, which has locations at Cambridge’s Alewife, Somerville’s Davis Square and in Boston. Another location is coming to Lexington, according to Marc Hurwitz’s Boston Restaurant Talk.

The 11 Broad Canal Way, Kendall Square, spot used by Commonwealth began being marketed for lease Thursday by the firm Graffito SP, which called it a 6,530-square-foot turnkey space, with Commonwealth’s assets considered part of the sale to get another restaurant started quickly.

“Graffito is currently working with ownership to sell the restaurant assets and secure a new restaurant tenant for the premises. Landlord is agreeable to a new long- term lease and is focused on securing an experienced, viable, community-centered tenant to reopen,” the firm’s marketing brochure says.

Postal called the time at Commonwealth “a wild 10-year ride, and it’s been so wonderful and amazing to be part of all your birthday parties, weddings, dinners, business lunches, barbecue outings, pingpong tournaments …. I mean, we did some wild shit in there,” he said via Instagram. “CW will close its doors but the memories and the connections that you made there will hopefully live on for many many more years. I thank everyone for everything they have ever done to make CW as special as it was.”