Monday, January 16, 2012

Box Lunch, the Best Little Sandwich Shop on Cape Cod

Need a quick and delicious lunch in winter, affordable, too? Try Box Lunch on Briar Lane, where the service is fast and friendly. Box Lunch has been in operation for a whopping 35 years. In high season, before the recession, this popular eatery would whip up "rollwiches" for 1000 customers a day. That number drops to 100 during the winter. In 2011, the MacNutts renovated a side room to create a pleasant space where folks can pause during a hectic day and enjoy a cup of chowder with one of Owen’s famous wraps. There’s a great variety from which to choose. The new kids on the block are Chicken Parmesan and The Harley, which features meatballs. My absolute favorite is the Guacamole, a sandwich for anyone vegetarian at heart. That’s what I order, and it never fails to please. Sven likes “Porkey’s Nightmare,” above: ham, three melted cheeses, mayo, tomatoes, onions & Durkee’s Sauce (mustard vinaigrette.)

Kathy MacNutt always greets customers with a smile. She's happy to offer suggestions to newcomers. Her favorite? “The John Alden, I guess. Though I do love the Chicken Parmesan. It’s hot and gooey.”

Box Lunch is a great place to hang out if you want to absorb some true Wellfleet atmosphere, too. There are always shellfishermen and carpenters stopping by.

I often tell guests about Box Lunch. They can call ahead and pick up the makings of a super picnic fifteen minutes later. Every minute matters in the life of some tourists, especially in summer.

Over the years the MacNutts have employed guest workers from 7 or 8 different countries, with Lithuania, Russia and Moldavia as the most frequently represented. 12 to 14 young people help Kathy and Owen out in high season.

When Sven and I stopped by two days ago, Box Lunch smelled of bacon since a recent customer had ordered a BLT.

“Bye, bye. Take care,” Kathy said to a regular, who had just complimented her on the kale soup, Saturday's special. “We feed the working guys during the week," she told me. "We have the best clam chowder around, made by Owen when he doesn’t break his arm.

(Last week Kathy’s husband Owen had a freak accident, smashing his elbow, and won’t be making his famous chowder during the recovery period. We wish him a speedy recovery!)

I asked Kathy what she likes about the job: “The pace. It’s exciting here, especially in summer. I get to chat with people in winter. I also like getting to know the employees. They become family. I enjoy being creative and making up the different sandwiches. It beats sitting behind a desk. That’s for sure!”

Box Lunch is one of the only restaurants in town to stay open year long, from 9 to 2:30, which is quite an achievement. Who hasn’t called ahead, in summer, in order to avoid waiting in line? I even know fans who come to Wellfleet specifically for the Box Lunch rollwich and take several home with them.

Owen and Kathy MacNutt can be proud of what they have achieved. Box Lunch has been so successful that it became a franchise, with eight Cape stores and two off Cape. Ten restaurants represents a whole lot of sandwiches. And, don't forget, it all started in Wellfleet ...

Have you ever eaten at Box Lunch? What do you order? Anyone tried the "guac?"