Sandwich shop Belly of the Beast opens in downtown Northampton

MassLive, June 12, 2017, by Juhi A. Dasrath.

There’s a new eatery on Main Street in Northampton, one focused on serving farm-to-table offerings.

Jessie Hassinger and Aimee Francaes opened Belly of the Beast at 159 Main St. this month.

The pair moved to Western Massachusetts from Boston to fulfill their dreams of opening a restaurant.

Belly of the Beast’s menu features locally sourced produce, whole and large primal cuts of animals setting it apart from its neighbors.

Francaes said the dream began about eight years ago when she and Hassinger were unsure about what kind of food establishment they wanted to open.

Deciding between a butcher’s shop, cheese shop and food truck, they finally landed on the idea of opening a restaurant that not only sourced local meat and vegetables but accommodated various food allergies as well.

Their menu offers food fit for people with nut, gluten, lactose and nightshade allergies. They also cater to people with vegan and vegetarian preferences.

“I just want to make sure that what you get on your plate is something that you will eat,” said Hassinger. “We definitely want to be open and supportive in that way to all of the guests that come through the door.”

Before Belly of the Beast’s opening, Hassinger and Francaes visited more than 30 local animal and produce farms, breweries, and purveyors to source their ingredients. Francaes said it was very important for them to work with the community and support the local farms.

The couple supports New England farms that practice animal husbandry in which the farmers treat the animals with respect by letting them graze instead of forcing them into feed lots.

“It’s sustainable not only for your own health but for the community you’re a part of as well,” said Francaes.

In order to maintain an accessible price point, Francaes and Hassinger plan to an abundance of produce to pickle and ferment them for the off season when vegetables are more expensive.

During the first few days of opening, customer Nona Hatay said she enjoyed her experience at Belly of the Beast because of its atmosphere and menu selections.

“They provide a lot of food that I can’t eat at a lot of restaurants. I just eat a lot of vegetables and they source local and if I eat meat, I want it to be local,” said Hatay, a local resident. “I think it’s a good addition to Northampton.”

Like their predecessors, Lhasa Cafe, Hassinger and Francaes plan to be an active part of their community by supporting local food markets and LGBTQ rights after establishing a name for themselves within the community.

After a dozen years serving authentic Tibetan dishes to hungry patrons in Northampton, Lhasa Café will close up shop this week.

In order to maintain consistently fresh ingredients, Frances and Hassinger will change menu options seasonally.

The restaurant seats more than 30 people and is open Wednesday through Monday. Some breakfast options are available but the couple will focus mainly on lunch. Dinner for take-out is also offered.