I was sad to learn this morning that the Lunchbox, a "wieners and waffles" joint across from UNLV, will be closing its doors next week. The Lunchbox's unique hot dog creations, often topped with unusual ingredients like boiled egg and avocado, were a fave of mine, not to mention its well-loved fresh-made waffle ice cream sandwiches. (Read Al Mancini's review here.) I got in touch with Chef Joseph Moore (who, full disclosure, is a friend) to ask what happened. We caught up over text message:
When are you closing and why?
Lunchbox will be closing Tuesday, Nov. 20. We will continue our catering program so only our physical shop will end. We learned a tremendous amount the first go and feel it is time to reorganize for something new.
What might that be? What's next?
Can't say with certainty, but a few opportunities are present. We laid down a solid foundation on which to build, so just want to make sure we continue to serve our guests to the best of our abilities and continuously develop ourselves internally, keeping our core principles as the driving force.
What are you going to do with your metal lunchbox collection?
Ha ha, great question. Many of them were donated by my friends from high school, so those will be returned. Some of the tins I wanted to fashion into nifty planters. The more valuable ones will be kept around so they can age nicely. If there happens to be a renaissance of lunch box use in the future, I'm prepared. Your lunch box will be no match against my 1983 Care Bears tin!
Got it. If you started another restaurant, would you consider calling it The Lunchbox again, since it's not really a cuisine-specific name and you already have some brand recognition -- and all those tins!
I would change the name. It limits the perception of our business to guests. We would want to be serving lunch and dinner next time around, so there would be a disconnect if we continued the name. We have developed a certain style of service that guests have come to recognize us by, and that will always be where we go, regardless of the name.
What will you miss most about the 'Box? What's your favorite memory?
Fondest memory for me was when Angela Johnson and I came up with "Wieners & Waffles" as our motto. It was already around midnight when we were brainstorming. She was sketching out ideas in her drawing pad and then she popped out this hot dog and waffle riding a tandem bike. It was a WOW moment for me. It's our shirt graphic and it just makes people smile and laugh because it's that awesome. Her creativity and talent really helped to bring the shop to life. I will miss everything about the 'Box, but it is part of our journey and we will be back at it creating something new not too far off.