Capital launch

Islington gets a taste of Scotland from Auld Hag

Gregg Boyd: bringing ‘incredible’ Scottish produce to the heart of London

Scottish food fan Gregg Boyd has finally achieved his mission to bring his country’s produce to the high street in London by opening a ‘shoap’ – slang for shop – in fashionable Islington.

The Auld Lag deli in St John Street is a showcase for “Scottish scran”, selling freshly-baked Glasgow morning rolls, shortbread, coffee roasted in Skye and beer brewed in Edinburgh.

There’s also Bare Bones Chocolate from Glasgow, charcuterie from East Coast Cured in Leith, preserves from the Isle of Arran as well as Mackie’s crisps, haggis, square sausage, Stornoway black pudding and Ecclefechan tarts.

Soon after last weekend’s launch, the Glaswegian and his partner Maddi sold out of Irn-Bru, Tennents lager and home-baked tattie scones.

He and Maddi had an idea for selling Scottish food to Londoners a few years ago and began by delivering hot food to people at home by bicycle, graduating to trading at weekend markets and cooking for the Scottish Government.

“I moved to London in 2015 and realised it wasn’t just haggis that wasn’t as loved as I thought it should be. I couldn’t believe Scottish food wasn’t readily available,” he said.

“Where could I get a roll and square sausage or a Scotch pie or a can of Tennents? Where was all our incredible produce like cheese, soft fruit, seafood and beef?”

Once the food markets reopened after lockdown the couple bought a gazebo and some basic cooking kit and began trading at a food market in Hackney.

Where it all began: the Auld Hag market stall

They were offered a six-month residency at a Scottish brewery on an industrial estate in Walthamstow, and asked by the Scottish Government to be the caterer for Scotland House in Blackfriars. Mr Boyd left his job and moved into the brewery kitchen.

“During this residency we both realised there was more to it,” he said. “There was a need to support the suppliers we had forged relationships with and in turn, find new ones.  There was a need to show people the soft drinks made using Scottish soft fruit; the chocolate made in the east end of Glasgow. There was a need for the shoap.”

A £40,000 crowdfund, launched on the Kickstarter platform, has just exceeded its target and covered the cost of equipment and fitting out the Islington outlet.

After the first hectic weekend, Mr Boyd posted a message on Instagram saying: “We’re going to open Wednesday to Saturday in the short term and add more days.

“I need to build up logistics so we can open more days – it’s not easy getting stuff sent down from the Hebrides and Orkney. It’ll happen though, so bare with me.”

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