By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Apr 15, 2022 at 12:35 PM

There’s a new sandwich spot opening at Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave., on Wednesday, April 20. And you might want to set aside some time to pay a visit.

HotWax is the name of the concept, which will bring a mouthwatering menu of sandwiches and shareables to the vendor stall which previously housed Thum.

Behind the concept is Chef Ben Crevensten, who launched the East Coast deli-inspired pop-up concept Meat & Co. last year with online ordering and pick-up at The Box Downtown. He's wrapped up regular service for Meat & Co. to open HotWax for the time being, he says, but he’ll continue to offer catering services at the Downtown event space moving forward.

Crevensten says that HotWax, a reference to the pressing of vinyl record albums will sport a record store themed stall featuring albums and album cover art, a television that plays old cartoons and a record player with headphones that guests can use to listen to vinyl records while they wait for their food.

HotWax logoX

Nashville HOT

Of course HotWax is also a reference to the heat, which Crevensten and Executive Sous Chef Christian Cole will bring to the concept’s menu in the form of its signature Nashville Hot Chicken.

Unlike some renditions, which are doused in hot sauce, Crevensten’s sandwich will remain true to the original with crispy fried chicken thighs dipped in Nashville hot oil and served with Calabrian chili pimento cheese, crunchy veggies (a mix of Romaine lettuce and cabbage) and Grillo’s pickles. Guests can order the chicken sandwich as-is or request it to be served extra hot, which buys them the addition of extra Nashville hot dry rub.

For those who want a more tame chicken sandwich, HotWax will also serve Naked Chicken: a sandwich featuring seared chicken thighs seasoned with smoky house rub and topped with chipotle mayo, crunchy veggies, fresh tomato and thinly shaved onions.

Chicken tenders
Chicken tenders (Photo: HotWax)

Prefer to skip the bun?  HotWax will also serve up baskets of hand-breaded chicken tenders served in the style of wings with housemade ranch or blue cheese, celery and carrots.

Guests can choose whether they’d like the tenders sauced or if they’d prefer sauce on the side. Sauces will include mild or hot Buffalo sauce, honey molasses bbq, a Nashville oil dip, Nashville dry rub, smoky house rub or salt and vinegar dry rub. 

Burgers & sandwiches

There will also be a signature burger featuring double smash patties, Cooper Sharp American cheese, caramelized onions, house burger sauce and pickles on a potato roll. 

Smash burger
Double smash (Photo: HotWax)

Guests can also order up The Skinny, a modified version of the burger featuring a four-ounce single patty with all the fixins. And there’s room for the addition of other toppings, from standards like lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and mustard to housemade bacon jam or chili sauce and cheese (yes, you can order a chili cheese burger).

You can also order up a classic chili dog, complete with a split-and-seared all-beef Angus hot dog topped with house chili sauce, shredded cheddar, bacon, diced onions and yellow mustard on a Martin’s split-top hot dog bun that’s been seared in butter.

Fans of Meat & Co. will also find tried and true selections like The Lunch Box, featuring toasted thick-cut white bread, crisped mortadella, white cheddar, Duke’s mayo, Zapp’s Voodoo chips and a choice of house-made giardiniera (mild or hot) or coleslaw with dijon vinaigrette.

There will also be a mini muffaletta featuring layers of Genoa salami, capicollo, mortadella, prosciutto, fresh tomato, fresh herbs, provolone cheese and house muffaletta mix on ciabatta.

Shareable items

Guests can also order up any number of shareable items on the HotWax menu including a casual take on the traditional cheese plate featuring Calabrian chili pimento cheese, an assortment of crackers, grapes celery and carrots. 

French fries will come served with a choice of two sauces (blue cheese, ranch, burger sauce or any of the sauces that accompany the HotWax chicken tenders) OR topped with bacon jam or chili sauce and cheese.

Other options include smoky potato salad (yukon gold potatoes, bacon, green onion, smoky house rub, sharp cheddar, sour cream dressing), Mixtape Caviar (charred corn, mixed beans, fresh jalapeno, green onion, tomato, cilantro and vinaigrette) or Crispy Cauliflower (roasted cauliflower tossed in garlic confit, topped with gremolata bread crumbs and served with green goddess dressing).

Moving forward, Crevensten says that HotWax is likely to make additions to their menu, including a fish fry on Fridays. There’s also potential, he says, for dropping some breakfast items, a later night menu (post 9 p.m.) or providing charcuterie for a bar snack program at the food hall. 

Regardless of what lies ahead, Crevensten says he’s pleased to contribute to the growing food scene on Milwaukee’s East Side.

“The East side has taken on a new life in recent years,” he says, “With spots like Hacienda Brewing and Kawa Ramen & Sushi really making a name for themselves… we’re excited to be a part of that.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.