Thursday, February 25, 2010

Of Sandwiches and Recession …

Before Tamara left, we showed her Dyer Pond. Once back at Chez Sven, I called Box Lunch and ordered up three scrumptious wraps. The Cape-wide franchise started here in Wellfleet. It's very easy to become addicted to these marvelous sandwiches, dubbed “rollwiches,” but B&B reservations are way down, so we don’t enjoy them as often these days. It makes more sense to buy the fixings and create one’s own.

I usually call in the order, then pick up the sandwiches.

“Two Guacs, light on the peppers, and a White Angus,” I told the shop’s owner over the phone.

“Three!” Owen exclaimed with obvious glee. “Whoopie! See you in ten minutes?”

(I’m not sure whether he actually said “whoopee” but his voice certainly expressed enthusiasm. Guacs are avocado, melted Swiss, Provolone, American, tomatoes, onions, red peppers and mayo. White Angus is roast beef with cream cheese.)

Owen's response had made it sound as if I might be the first customer of the day, but there were three other people inside the tiny Briar Lane shop when I entered, including Owen’s wife Kathy, busy preparing sandwiches, a job she assumed, in recent years, only while the help was on break or sick. Today I got the impression there was no help, no business to warrant help.

Nate Cook sat at the counter, dressed in black. We used to eat Box Lunch rollwiches together during our various renovation projects. For several years Nate has worked as a contractor. He is also an excellent carpenter.

“An old friend’s visiting,” I said, after a warm hug. “I wanted her to taste the best sandwiches in town.”

Nate said he was leaving on a surfing vacation in Mexico next week and hoped to have work upon his return. The statement was accompanied by a slight shrug of discouragement. His tone was tinged with inevitability, as if he had been expecting this to happen. Finding work had been hard over the past year. Now work for spring had dried up.

The economy sucks, but the recession's claws had not gripped Wellfleet until recently. Shops all over town have now closed. No more Downunder videos; Wes Waters discounted all his antiques and shut Codder House; Sam Cooks retired for a second time; the owners of Wellfleet Wine & Spirits put their shop up for sale. Note, Main Street merchants seem to be doing better than Route 6 businessmen. Still it’s clear people are hurting. According to the newspapers, burglaries on the Cape are up, as is petty crime.

Has the recession made itself obvious in your town? Are you a Box Lunch fan? What's your favorite Box Lunch sandwich? Do you still eat out despite the recession?