It’s barely midday in Downtown Los Angeles, and Paul James and partner Jon Buscemi are busy alternating between turning screws to assemble new patio tables, cooking off some broccoli rabe and meatballs for sandwiches, and discussing whether or not to have a negroni. The scene, which took place this past Saturday, was part of the pair’s planned friends and family pre-opening party for the newest location of Uncle Paulie’s Deli, James’ namesake East Coast sandwich shop. The first location on Beverly, not far from Fairfax, is a haven for chicken parm sandwiches and the sort of swag you see on celebrities sitting courtside at NBA games.
“I don’t need all that, though” says James as he dishes out a roast beef and pepper sandwich for a photo. “Really, I just want to feed the locals, the moms with the baby strollers.” He and partner Buscemi, who has spent a lifetime in fashion but who counts food as a passion, will get the chance to do just that with their newest Spring Street location in Downtown, which opens today for lunch service.
Together, the longtime friends hatched a plan last year to expand Uncle Paulie’s further east, in part because of the concentration of crowds and creativity in Downtown right now, and in part because of pure demand. “Our delivery [from the Beverly Boulevard shop] stops in Koreatown,” James says, while greeting a passerby with a menu to peruse. “I get DMs all the time from customers asking when they can get our food Downtown.”
The plan at the new Uncle Paulie’s is to lean into delivery and catering, in part because of all those DMs and the large amount of new residential buildings popping up along this edge of the Fashion District, Historic Core, and South Park.
Drivers for the shop will be able to make it as far as the wholesale fashion manufacturers in Vernon, where James and Buscemi both have links, while the storefront itself will hold half a dozen seats inside and a dozen or so more out on patio tables along the sidewalk. A takeaway window means customers can easily snag a sandwich while on the go, and an upcoming breakfast menu that mirrors the Beverly location will add to the easy nature with coffee and some serious bacon egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches.
For now it’s just lunch hours at the new Downtown location, though breakfast, dinner, and even late night weekend services are in the works. The unassuming counter and kitchen represent the front half of what used to be the ground floor restaurant for upstairs boutique hotel Tuck, and there’s a brand new cocktail bar called Night Night in the back as well. Uncle Paulie’s will supply small bites for the bar, plus food for the hotel.
Uncle Paulie’s Deli opens today at 820 S. Spring Street in Downtown, with a full menu minus breakfast. Check out the menu board below.