Tell us a little bit about Alby’s. Where did it all begin?
Basically we love sandwiches. If ever there’s one on the menu, we always order it. They’re the perfect vehicle for such a variety of ingredients and flavours. We had both worked in various roles in hospitality in Edinburgh for a really long time and had always wanted to have our own space where we curate the atmosphere and bring together our experience, taste, music and love of sandwiches!
Where did the name come from?
Alby is our mini wire-haired dachshund. Let’s just say he’s quite a character!
How would you describe the atmosphere of the Leith shop for anyone who hasn’t been there?
We hope it’s jolly! The shop has a happy yellow theme mixed with mid-century, Formica, and a few old “caff” references. Our team is friendly and welcoming, and we want everyone to have a sense of familiarity – whether there’s nostalgia in the smoky glass mugs, the tenement tiles, or just the way they’re greeted.
Tell us about your current neighborhood. What other businesses are nearby?
Leith as an area is great. It has changed a lot over the years, but there’s still a sense of pride about being a Leither. There’s a mix of new trendy places, old dockers’ pubs, classic caffs, and creative studios, and they all co-exist pretty well.
We’re quite far into Leith and are really happy to see other businesses joining us down this end – Mistral, a lovely wine shop and bar selling interesting wines and a nice snacks menu; Sabzi, a family-run Indian restaurant that changes its menu weekly; Williams and Johnson, a great roastery (they supply our coffee) with a micro-bakery selling some amazing pastries; Newbarns, a great brewery and taproom where you can play darts and billiards; and, of course, Nauticus, our favourite pub!
Your ‘big hot sandwiches’ have gained quite a reputation for their exceptional flavors. How do you come up with such innovative and delicious combinations for your sandwiches?
We find inspiration in loads of places: things we’ve eaten on our travels, a dish that already exists but in sandwich form, new takes on old favorites or classic flavor combinations – inspiration comes from everywhere! The great thing about a sandwich is that you’re really layering flavor – every bite is perfectly curated.
This might be a hard one, but what are the top 3 sandwiches you’ve ever featured at Alby’s?
Yikes, that is hard! I’d say the ham hock with pea and pickled onion fritters is up there, the sardine melt, and the charred hispi cabbage. And anything with fried chicken, of course.
What do you like doing in any downtime you get from the shop? Are there any places further afield in Scotland that you like to visit?
We try to visit as many Edinburgh and Leith businesses as we can on our days off. We’re mostly led by our stomachs. Of course, big walks with Alby are also a must – we try to get to a beach at least once a week. Seacliff beach is a favorite. We recently took a campervan and explored the coast around Lochaber, which was stunningly beautiful – and we really lucked out with the weather, which always helps in Scotland!
Lastly, tell us about the new store. Where is it, and what can we expect from it?
Yes! Alby’s Southside is a go! We are opening our second shop on Buccleuch Street soon. It will have similar vibes interior wise just a different colour scheme.. It’s a much smaller space that will be mostly takeaway to service the lovely folks up in town and for sunny meadows picnics!
INTERVIEW BY Eryn Inglis
IMAGES Simon Hird