The likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez have performed at the century-old Dream Away Lodge.
BECKET, Mass. — Daniel Osman is ready to expand on one of Berkshire County's most remote, but popular destination venues.
"My first 10 years were a wild ride and a slow education," said the former actor of his experience running the storied Dream Away Lodge since 1997.
The lodge has seen an average growth of 22 percent annually for the last five years, the Becket entrepreneur told a surprised delegation of the local creative economy at a "Spark" networking event held there Wednesday by Berkshire Creative.
In light of this successful growth during one of the worst economic recessions in history, Osman took the opportunity to announce the next major development in his business: plans for "The Peek-A-Boo Ridge," a new retreat and lodging facility he says will turn the secluded venue into "a total experience."
"This is 50 acres in the middle of 18,000 acres of October Mountain State Forest," said Osman, "Lodging is the next logical step."
Plans drawn for the proposed new site call for 10 rooms, along with a 16-bunk hostel-type area, and two large workshop areas.
"There is no other place that can match the distinct circumstances and history of the Dream Away Lodge," said Osman. "Peek-A-Boo Ridge will be the gateway to a Berkshire experience from the very unique Dream Away perspective.
Dream Away Lodge, which opened under its current owner in 1997, is set in a two-century-old farmhouse tucked away off County Road, bordering the largest forested area in Massachusetts. According to local lore, the site was said to have been a speakeasy and brothel during the 1920s and '30s, formerly operated by the legendary Mamma Maria Frasca (described the Associated Press as "a recording artist, movie star, natural healer and Italian chef") and her three daughters. In 1975, the establishment saw visits by such celebrated talents as Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg and the Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, and was featured in the second part of Dylan's film "Renaldo and Clara."
In addition to its bar, and well-reviewed dining atmosphere overseen by chef Amy Loveless, the unusual tavern destination offers weekly live music most of the year, an outdoor amphitheater-style fire pit, garden areas and an art gallery.
"We're doing fine, the restaurant's fine, we're finally in a place where we need to move to the next thing," said Osman.
A timetable for the proposed development is not yet clear; in closing, Osman jokingly invited "any smart investors or bankers in the room" to speak with him about the project.
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