When the owners of The Lunchbox closed the lid on the Midtown eatery Dec. 30, it not only left patrons yearning for its classic sandwiches such as the Tidewater Club and the Reagan, it also left a hole at a busy shopping center with more food outlets than retail shops.
Located at Shipyard Boulevard and 17th Street, the modest Cornerstone Shopping Center was once – and still, at times can be – packed at lunchtime, a popular stop for medical workers and patients with nearby doctor appointments.
In the pre-COVID days, New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Verizon workers were frequent visitors to The Lunchbox as well as Krazy’s Pizza and Subs and Main Moon, a Chinese takeout. For those on the go, Wendy’s and Arby’s provide a drive-thru option. Midtown Pop also is at Cornerstone.
After two years waitressing there, Yvonne Inman joined with Jeff McDonald to buy The Lunchbox. Their focus was on a menu with a variety of sandwiches, wraps, salads and rotating soups and desserts.
Not only did The Lunchbox come up with some popular sandwich options (16, to be exact), the owners were able to keep the costs reasonable, with nothing on the menu over $10.
Inman and McDonald did not respond to interview requests, but in announcing the closing on Facebook, they pointed to another opportunity that “will require every bit of our energy and our full attention … we know we would be unable to give The Lunchbox our best.”
Although the space itself was no-thrills, the collection of vintage lunchboxes likely brought back school-day memories for customers. The closing announcement did not say where the lunchboxes might end up but did not rule out a reopening of the eatery under new owners.