Cabot’s Ice Cream and Restaurant is a time capsule. The restaurant’s diner-esque interior hasn’t changed since the ice cream shop opened in 1969, providing a sense of nostalgia for customers as they walk through the door.
“That’s why we purposely keep everything the same—just keeping the memory alive,” Joe Prestejohn, current owner of Cabot’s, said.
Now, for the first time since it opened 54 years ago, Cabot’s will have new ownership.
Kay and Kevin Masterson will take over as the owners of Cabot’s starting March 6. The couple owns Johnny’s Luncheonette in Newton Centre—a diner with a retro vibe similar to Cabot’s—and has worked in the restaurant industry for over 20 years.
Prestejohn commended the Masterson’s for the success of Johnny’s Luncheonette and said he feels confident that the couple will be successful in operating Cabot’s.
“They’ve got a great reputation,” he said. “They’re very dedicated, hard working people. Their beliefs are very similar to mine. They believe in their employees, the community that serves them, and their customers. And they put out a great product, a consistent product, and that’s exactly what we do here.”
Prestejohn began working at Cabot’s when his parents opened the shop in 1969. Having overseen operations since his early twenties, Prestejohn, now 65, is retiring as owner.
“I always enjoyed working here,” Prestejohn said. “I started working when I was 11 years old.”
Prestejohn has strived to create a welcoming environment for his customers.
“We’re all about creating ice cream smiles here,” he said.
It is hard to miss Prestejohn’s strong work ethic and commitment to Cabot’s, according to Bruce Apotheker, a former lieutenant at the Newton Police Department.
“It’s not uncommon to see Joe there working, you know, morning, noon, and night,” Apotheker said.
Apotheker has been coming to Cabot’s since the early ’70s and has made countless memories there over the years.
“My parents would be at home and I would love to go in there and get my father a sundae and get my mother a milkshake and surprise them with it,” Apotheker said.
Prestejohn said it is rewarding to see customers consistently come back to Cabot’s year after year.
“I’ve enjoyed just watching some young people grow up in here and they’ve become parents themselves,” he said. “Now they get to bring their kids. To me, that’s … an awesome thing.”
Prestejohn said many BC students have visited the shop over the years.
“They’ve got some great memories that they’ve created here,” he said. “And sure enough, when they stop back into Boston—could be two, three, four, five, 10 years later—they’ll come up to us and say ‘I went to BC. I used to come in here all the time. We had such a great time here.’”
Prestejohn said he committed himself to supporting the Newton community throughout his time at Cabot’s.
“We put a lot of what would be advertising dollars into donations to different groups of nonprofits in the city,” he said.
While Apotheker said many people in the community are sad to see Prestejohn sell his business, he’s happy Prestejohn can retire. Prestejohn does not plan on saying goodbye to Cabot’s completely, however.
“My plan is to stay on, get these folks situated, comfortable running the place, and I’m just gonna take a few weeks off just to let them get their footing,” he said. “And then I’m gonna come back and help them as much as I can, whenever I can.”
Kay feels most excited about getting to know the regulars at Cabot’s, as she has developed strong connections with patrons at Johnny’s Luncheonette.
“There’s people [at Johnny’s Luncheonette] that let us know when they’re traveling because they know we’ll be concerned about them,” she said. “It really matters to have places that someone knows that ‘oh, I need to tell, I need to tell somebody at Johnny’s I’m not going to be in next week, so they won’t wonder about me.’”
Kay plans to run Cabot’s in Prestejohn’s footsteps by building connections with customers and making people feel welcome. She said she feels optimistic about running both Johnny’s and Cabot’s.
“We have a really good team, we have a managing partner,” she said. “We really have a model that is very much about sharing the load, and having and really empowering, you know, a group of people to feel, to share the responsibility of the restaurant.”
Kay looks forward to running Cabot’s alongside her husband and feels honored to take over such a beloved business.
“It’s a successful business,” Kay said. “I’m very happy to be continuing that on in Newton.”