Friday, May 19, 2017

Box Lunch Celebrates 40 Years Serving Hungry Cape Codders, 35 Years in PTown

This A-frame style sign lists just a few of the specialty
sandwiches, salads and soups offered by Box Lunch.
It was good to see recently that Box Lunch is open again, tucked away just off Commercial Street, down a wide, sloping, red brick walkway. It's right across from the Provincetown Public Library.
It's worth the effort to find this great little sandwich shop. Julie and her crew are among the friendliest folks in town. They truly do go out of their way to serve their customers in any way they can.
And the food is not only terrific, but it's different from any other sandwich shop or deli in town. Box Lunch is home of the Rollwich, a name that is copyrighted, to perfectly describe the roll-up style sandwiches invented in Wellfleet by a school teacher during summer break, back in 1977.
That's right… This spring Box Lunch is celebrating its 40th anniversary, making unique, delicious, rolled sandwiches that are easy to eat on the go. These have also proven to be some of Cape Cod's all-time favorite sandwiches, winning multiple awards from Cape Cod Life magazine and others.
There are four Box Lunch shops, from Provincetown to Eastham. Sandwiches start at just $5.49, with dozens to choose from, or you can come up with your own combination. Kids have a menu of their own, too, with a choice of six Kidwiches. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan folks will also find plenty of choices.
Owen MacNutt created his sandwiches by rolling his fillings up tightly in big, round, thin discs of fresh Syrian flatbread. That way you can easily carry them with you, to the beach or on the bike trail, without the sandwich suffering in transit. These are easy to eat while you're working, or walking down the street, or through the forrest, without all the spilling and dripping that can tend to make a conventional sandwich too difficult and messy to eat while you're doing something else. You can eat a Box Lunch Rollwich with one hand, without all the filling falling out.

Julie told me about a customer who comes in every day for the Gilded Lobster,
above: Succulent lobster, melted Swiss, avocado and a bit of mayo. Perfection!
My first sandwich from Box Lunch was more than 25 years ago, at the original Wellfleett location, which is still run by Owen and his wife, Kathryn.
I remember I had a hard time choosing from their huge menu that day, but finally settled on Porky's Nightmare, made with ham, three melted cheeses, tomatoes, onions, mayo and Durkee's mustard vinaigrette. It was so good that I don't remember ever trying anything else in all these years. Turns out it's their number one seller. Except in Provincetown…
Here, the best-selling sandwich at Box Lunch is the Gilded Lobster, pictured above, which Julie got me to try a couple of days ago, on my first visit there this year. It's stuffed with plenty of fresh lobster, mild, melted Swiss cheese, avocado and a little mayo. I'm not normally a fan of Swiss cheese, but this inspired combination was really good!

This excellent version of a hearty tomato soup, made with fresh basil and
crumbled feta cheese, was one of three great soup choices offered on this day.
Another unusual thing about Box Lunch's PTown location is the tremendous number of salads they sell; far more than the Turo, Wellfleet or Eastham branches, and again, a gazillion choices.
I was there on a cold, drizzly day, so to warm up a bit, I had one of three soups offered that day. Clam chowder is always on the menu, with other favorites popping up on a daily basis. Each is made right there, in the tiny kitchen at Box Lunch, from scratch, just like everything else they make. That chilly day, I ordered the tomato/basil/feta soup, which was perfect on that blustery afternoon. Those bright flavors make me want more of this hearty potage as I am writing this.
Provincetown, by the way, was the second Box Lunch location to open, and celebrates its own 35th anniversary in PTown this year. After five years of hard work, with the popularity of MacNutt's Rollwiches steadily growing as more people discovered them, he opened a new Provincetown location in 1982, at the Pilgrim House complex. It later moved to the old Whalers Wharf, then it moved to its current location in 1998, when the Whalers Wharf burned to the ground. Oddly, the Pilgrim House had also gone up in flames in 1990, in a suspicious, four-alarm blaze. Happily, the third incarnation of Provincetown's Box Lunch has been thriving for nearly 20 years in its present spot.
Box Lunch does breakfast, too, for under $5. They open by 8 AM. Right now they stay open until late afternoon, and hours are bound to be extended as the summer season gets into full swing, so you'll be able to get a quick, tasty, inexpensive supper, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch.
The Provincetown location is nestled under the trees in a little courtyard, down that wide, red brick walkway at 353 Commercial Street. Choose the sunlight or shade with relaxed, comfortable outdoor seating at tables or benches, or you can take your food with you. If you're in a hurry, or dashing between jobs, you can call ahead at 508 487-6026 to have your order ready to pick up.
This spot is only a few steps off Commercial Street, but you could walk right by without seeing it. Look for their bright red, A-framed blackboard sign, shown above, to lead you to this unusual, award-winning little PTown eatery, popular for all the right reasons.

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