The humble sandwich is a quick and simple lunchtime staple and keeping things simple is the goal of Alex Pearson, owner of Al’s Sandwiches located in Trotter’s Butcher Shop and Charcuterie on Cork Street.
“I don’t take pre-orders,” said Pearson. “I don’t do catering. You just have to show up and get a sandwich. There are no complications and that is what I like about it. It is simple.”
Pearson got his start in the food business while he was in high school working part time for a butcher shop in his hometown of Milton.
“I have been working in restaurants for about 10 years,” he said. “That has been my career since I have been in Guelph pretty much. I was going to stay here for four months and I have been here for nine years and counting.”
Since moving to Guelph he has worked at Delhi Street Bistro, Royal Electric and Baker Street Station.
“I have always wanted to do just a simple sandwich shop,” said Pearson. “My friend, Brett (MacDonald) the owner of Trotters, was a chef at Baker Street Station when I worked there. When he left and opened here three years ago we kind of talked about it. One day we talked about it again and just decided to do it. I was ready for a change and wanted to be self-employed for a bit.”
When Pearson launched the shop 11 months ago the hours were 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. four days a week. He has since reduced that to three days a week.
He gets all of his ingredients from Trotters, which are made in house or locally sourced. Customers can choose from a rotating menu of eight sandwich options depending on Pearson’s appetite that day.
“It is really basic,” he said. “There are three options a day and they are just sandwiches that I like to eat. If I don’t want to eat it, I probably won’t make it.”
He does very little advertising short of a Facebook page and the sandwich board he puts out front of the butcher shop, and relies mostly on business advice from his stomach and word of mouth. Nevertheless he has continued to grow his customer base.
“We have a kind of cult following,” he said. “To be honest, I have no idea where this is going. It would be cool for sure if the business grows but I am just taking it one day at a time right now. Small businesses are delicate. You never know what is going to happen next week.”