Wax Paper: “NPR Hosts Never Tasted So Good!”
Much like a sandwich needs two slices of bread to keep all the good stuff together, Wax Paper owners Lauren and Peter Lemos are the two slices of humans holding the success of Wax Paper together as their sandwich business baby begins to grow.
Wax Paper just stretched into its second location in the heart of Chinatown. Lauren and Peter are not only biz partners, they’re also married. And for the past three years these two lovahs have dedicated themselves to serving their loyal sandwich eaters restaurant grade, chef-driven flavors squished between two slices of amazing Bub and Grandma’s bread (if you know, you know), hold the pretentiousness though. Lauren and Peter’s approach to running Wax Paper cuts through the snootiness and goes way beyond the ‘wiches. These two are simply here for the community of fans and friends that keep them going.
Even if the Chinatown location is your first time meeting this sandwich family (Hi Melissa, Mikey and Tad!), it’ll probably only take you 2.5 seconds to get it. Lauren, usually at the register, is ready to take your order and talks to you like you’re the only one in the room, like there isn’t a long line of people behind you with hungry grumbling guts. You’re in, you’re fam and that’s that. She knows you, she appreciates you coming in and you feel it!
This love fest started back when Wax Paper first popped up in Frogtown (down by the L.A. River) in a teeny 226-square foot container storefront in late 2015 after Peter burned out while working at various top restaurants. He quickly remembered his dream of running his own little sandwich shop. “I think the bar for sandwiches was set pretty low. I wanted to see what happened when you have the best bread and high quality ingredients,” says Peter. So the scrappy couple dove right in with zero investors. And before they knew it, the tiny corner shop began to attract large crowds. “I remember there being a day when I was looking out the window and it was like the zombie apocalypse! People were walking towards the shop!” And that’s how a cult favorite in L.A. is born. If you build good sandwiches, mouths will come? Yes, that’s it. And yes the sandwiches are THAT good, plus they’re named after NPR hosts! “We were in the car, listening to NPR and it’s no secret that their names are fascinating and amazing and we were like ‘What if we name our sandwiches after them?’ And it kinda just went from there,” Lauren recalls laughing.
So let’s get to the four new sandwiches you can only get at the Chinatown location. There’s the Garth Trinidad – roasted turkey topped with cabbage-citrus-serrano slaw, a miso-sesame aioli, sliced almonds for some crunch and furikake they get next door. Then there’s the Neda Ulaby - a hearty beast that might just turn into two meals. It has roast beef, onion dip and pickled beets stuffed between two chunky ciabatta slices. There’s also the Ophira Eisenberg – Peter’s take on honey walnut shrimp but with black forest ham. It’s a crunchy, sweet and salty sandwich perfect for those faithful to the Audie Cornish back in Frogtown. But the subjective winner for this non-vegan is the vegan sandwich named after Hettie Lynne Hurtes (a vegan). This damn (sorry mom!) sandwich will teach you that flavor is the new meat. It is so juicy and jammed with flavor you’ll most likely find it hard to order anything else but don’t you dare deprive yourself. All of the sandwiches at Wax Paper are worth your mouth’s time. So hop to it.
“The Wax Paper motto is ‘Familiar food with a twist that brings you back.’ Brings you back meaning it brings you back to a memory from a time gone by or brings you back to eat here,” says Lauren. And you’ll come back … over and over again … I mean what more do you want? Nice people, great sandwiches and George Costanza in his underwear straddling a sandwich, framed over a booth. Exactly. We got you.
Written by Linda Hosmer (@blockanimal) | Photography by Kort Havens