Lookout Farm Hard Cider Plants the Seeds for a City Restaurant

The Belkin family is diversifying its crops this summer to eventually supply a farm-to-table spot proposed in Fenway.

The Belkin Family Lookout Farm Hard Cider Taproom

The Belkin Family Lookout Farm Hard Cider Taproom in South Natick. / Photo provided

Lookout Farm has been in operation for 365 years, and its current family of owners would like to see it continue for another couple millennia. A farm-to-table restaurant in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood would probably help, and the Belkin family is putting plans into action to make that possible.

Included in the proposal for a 340-unit residential tower at 2 Charlesgate West that Trans National Properties filed yesterday is a full-service eatery from Lookout Farm Hard Cider, which launched at the South Natick farm last year. Jay Mofenson, operations manager of the cider brand, is the son-in-law of Trans National Group founder Steve Belkin. Along with his wife, Joan, Belkin purchased the 180-acre Lookout Farm 11 years ago. When Mofensen married Amy Belkin, he changed gears from being an insurance attorney to an agriculturalist.

“It becomes more and more difficult, on a wholesale level, to generate enough revenue to support the infrastructure required to run a farm,” Mofenson says. “Lookout Farm Hard Cider lets us produce a craft product and offer it to our neighbors and friends year-round. With the taproom, it adds some vibrancy to the farm for 12 months out of the year.”

The new restaurant would take that even further in a few ways. First, Mofenson is diversifying Lookout Farm’s crops by planting habanero and bell peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, and other vegetables in the property’s 16 greenhouses this summer, and eventually plans to supplement the menu with homegrown produce.

At the South Natick taproom, limited offerings of house-made gelato, flatbreads, Massachusetts Cheese Guild and New England Charcuterie plates, and other snacks accompany the four, rotating hard cider options on draft, and Mofenson says to expect a wider bill of fare at the Boston spot.

“What we would like to do is focus on growing healthy, fresh vegetables to incorporate into a dining experience that’s farm-centric,” he says. “We would definitely want to pursue contracts with other farms to support their efforts [too].”

The family plans to pursue a full liquor license, though the bar will showcase Lookout Farm Hard Cider.

The Belkin family also hopes opening a Boston restaurant will give city dwellers more chances to get outside. Mofenson, who reverse commutes to Natick from the South End every day, plans to provide season farm passes to the future Charlesgate West residents.

“New England has a rich history with farming, but I think a lot of people have lost touch with that,” he says. “There’s a romantic sense of being on a farm, in the outdoors, enjoying a beautiful view. “This is a nice opportunity to tie in a local farm to the Fenway area of Boston.”

The restaurant is still years off. Trans National’s plans indicated construction could begin this year, to be complete in 2020.

In the meantime, cider fans will start seeing more of Lookout’s products around Massachusetts soon. Mofenson and Horizon Beverage are targeting June 10 for a “significant” expansion of the brand’s distribution around the state, he says. Currently, he’s focused on the flagship Farmhouse, but 12-ounce bottles of Lookout’s seasonal pumpkin cider will hit shelves this fall, with more specialities to follow.

“We’re making inroads,” he says. “We grow the food, and we’re excited to share it with others.”