BOSTON – The Cannonball Café, a new breakfast and lunch gathering spot named with the neighborhood’s historic industrial heritage in mind, designed and operated by chef Rachel Lazar, will open its doors and begin serving its South Boston neighbors and visitors on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021.
The Cannonball Cafe, whose name recalls the rich 19th Century history of the influential neighborhood settler Cyrus Alger, hailed for his metallurgy and forging skills that placed him at one time as the most prominent industrialist in the United States, will brighten the longtime industrial district as its first dining spot.
The opening marks an important early step in the transition of the area west of Dorchester Avenue to a vibrant new mixed-use neighborhood called On the Dot®, which is being developed by Core Investments, Inc. Core has hired Rachel Lazar, who has over 10 years of experience in the food industry and is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, specializing in the culinary arts, as Manager of the Cannonball Café. To learn more about Rachel, please go to On the Dot® website.
The café, more than a year in planning, is at 383 Dorchester Ave., in a repurposed building located near Grand Ten Distilling and between the popular workout studios CrossFit Southie and Peter Welch’s Gym.
Those establishments along with the Cannonball Café are tenants of Core Investments, Inc., which for more than a decade has been assembling underused or vacant parcels with the vision of a new neighborhood of commercial, residential, civic, and retail uses – including a distinctive café.
Cannonball Café is the product of a team led by Lazar, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, a school of culinary arts in Providence, R.I., and Dave Pogorelc, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Core Investments, along with the Core Investments development team.
The new café will feature coffees, teas, smoothies, items baked in house, sandwiches and salads, and a variety of other locally produced breakfast, lunch, and snack items, for dining in or to-go. Cannonball Café will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., possibly expanding to weekends later, and will have about 20 seats.
“My experiences have led me to be able to create and shaped who I am,” said Lazar, who has managed food production and catering in Marblehead for six years, has overseen menus at summer camps for children in New Hampshire, and who spent a year doing food-related community service for large numbers in Israel. She attended art school in New Hampshire before turning to food as a career.
“I want that community feel. There’s something special about that,” Lazar said of the café and the emerging On the Dot neighborhood. “I want people to feel that they’re part of it. The community sort of built this, and I take that to heart.”
Lazar said a “media wall,” with information about the MBTA, bikes, arts and local events, will contribute to a “homey” feel at the Cannonball Café. “I want it to be a comforting place,” she said. “This is a very industrial area, and there’s not a lot of comfort on the streets.”
Core Investments, Inc., a Boston real estate development and investment company, has been planning On the Dot for a decade, along with nearby Washington Village, a five-acre mixed-use development that began construction this month. Core Investments is planning the neighborhood as a vibrant mixed-use district, consistent with the BPDA and City of Boston’s “PLAN: South Boston Dorchester Avenue Planning Initiative” and other city guidelines.
The area has unparalleled location and transportation advantages to serve South Boston with new jobs, residences, and extensive open space.
Commercial redevelopment of the 20-plus acres of Core Investment’s land, west of Dorchester Avenue between B Street and Southampton Street, constitutes the welcome revival of an area that more than a century ago was an innovation and manufacturing powerhouse in Boston and for the nation. The area evolved into a light industrial district in the mid-1900s and now is being transformed for the changed urban needs of a 21st Century economy and residents.
Cyrus Alger, born in 1792, played a prominent role in the neighborhood’s future and success. He followed his father into the iron and foundry business, excelled at it after he moved to South Boston (then part of Dorchester) in 1809, and is considered to have been at one time the most prominent industrialist in the United States. His South Boston Iron Co. operations began along Foundry at Fourth, where he innovated by creating more land outside an existing seawall on former mudflats. He had contracts with the U.S. government to make cannonballs for the War of 1812, cast cannons used in the Civil War, and designed other products, including a cylinder stove.
The Cannonball Café is located on space on the considerable acreage he purchased around Dorchester Avenue – then known as the Dorchester Turnpike – and expanded, by filling in mudflats where the land ended and water began on the west of South Boston. He owned most of the land on both sides of little Alger Street, and the Alger School once sat at the corner of Seventh and C streets.
“People ask me, ‘Why Cannonball?’ said Lazar. “And I explain to them this is the site. It’s so on the spot to leave the history when you’re changing a building that is very historical. Boston is all about preservation and to be able to carry forward – the Civil War, ending slavery. We’re always evolving. If we do this the right way, it will be well received. Forge ahead!”