A CORNER of Stockbridge has ushered in the end of an era as the community said a fond farewell to brothers Ernesto (Nino) and Franco Alonzi of Franco’s Fish & Chips after 46 years and Moira Barnes, who has been selling Sunday papers from her stall opposite the popular Raeburn Place chippy for over 38 years.
Some history about the Alonzi family:
- 1958, the Alonzi brothers’ parents, Vincenzo and Bernice left Picinisco, a commune in the Province of Frosinone in the Italian region of Lazio, 120km east of Rome in pursuit of a better life in Newport, Wales when Ernesto (Nino) was 5 years old and Franco was 3
- 1964, Vincenzo and Bernice moved to Stockbridge Edinburgh and their first business, the Park Café, a confectionery and tobacconist shop, which later changed to an ice cream bar, Capones, which the brothers lease to Ailsa Rollo and called Rollo. The brothers helped their parents out after school.
- 1970 they expanded the business and they bought the chip shop opposite and named it Franco’s
- 1981 they branched out further and purchased Dougall's grocery store two doors along from the chip shop, and ran a grocery store for 3 years before converting it to the San Marco Restaurant.
- 1986 they acquired the hairdressers next door and expanded San Marco’s floor space.
- 1992 for the final time they expanded the business by buying the cobbler and dress makers next door, creating the San Marco Wine Bar
- 2012 the brothers shut the San Marco doors and leased out the space to Tom Kitchin, who opened it into the Scran & Scallie Restaurant
1. Nino, Franco, Vincenzo and Bernice
2. Sean Connery in San Marcos
3. Vinnie in Franco's
4. Franco's daughter with Tom Kitchin
Susannah of Stockbridge Local, met up with the brothers for breakfast at The Scran & Scallie. They were overwhelmed by the community reaction to them retiring and enjoyed sharing some special memories collected over the years.
Nino said: “We’ve appreciated all the custom over the years, some regulars and some well-known names. We’ve had a special relationship with local schools, including Broughton High and Fettes.
I can assure customers the quality of service and standard of food will continue under Mr Giuseppe (Pino) Vita who leases the business from us with the help of his family, in particular his 22 year-old son, Ricardo. Pino has over 25 years catering experience and run an Italian restaurant in Tollcross. We’ve have had the pleasure of knowing Pino for a number of years as he worked for us in the San Marco kitchen from 1994 -1998.
Initially I will swing by a few times a week to help Pino out and I will enjoy seeing many familiar faces walking down Raeburn Place. My son Vincenzo (Vinny), who recently got married and moved to America, has also been at the forefront of our business over recent years. We have fantastic memories and will be sad to say cheerio”.
He then went on to describe the change they had seen in Stockbridge over the years, initially they were surrounded by shoes shops, a dairy, now Mr Acram’s, a bank, clothes shop, a chemist and a toy shop. He recalled their father never taking a day off. Every New Year’s Eve a neuro-surgeon, Dr Patel from New York used to be the last footer and first footer in the Park Café with his coal before enjoying a dram. He said, now there are a number of fine establishments, including the popular Raeburn across the road, Rollo and The Pastry Section, which only opened its doors recently and he enjoyed going in for a lovely coffee and pastry each morning.
"DCIB (Double Cheese Burger In Bun), a Franco’s favourite amongst the pupils at Fettes College throughout the years!" William Forsyth
"All the best guys, thanks for the memories (and the suppers). I first moved to Stocky when I was 15 and Franco's was a regular port of call. Franco was usually seen more often in San Marco's next door than the chippy, but Nino was always behind the counter - serving customers with a smile. One of life's good guys, and I wish them both well for the future. Their place in Stockbridge folklore is assured!" Colin Leslie
"So many memories, was my first job." Linda Tuff
"Been going for almost 37 years. Can remember their mother making sure they were doing "right" in the early years. Don't forget San Marco - kid friendly haven." Shaun Vigers
"Worked here a few years back, best chippy and the best people!" Natasha Welsh
"Our family loved the chippie and San Marco next door was the first place my week old daughter went for dinner! Good luck to you and your families in the future." Annette Hughes
"Grafters and gentlemen, will be a big loss to Stockbridge, enjoy your retirement guys, hope to still see you along Raeburn Place now and again." Armstrong's of Stockbridge (10% off)
New owner Pino said:
“I’m excited to take on this new challenge now my family have grown up. I intend on keeping the name, Franco’s and giving the place of a bit of a face-lift. We already source our fish from Armstrong’s across the road and I’m hoping to introduce burgers with beef from George Bower’s Butchers, just a few doors down, along with doing chicken kebabs. We look forward to welcoming you and are delighted to be part of the Stockbridge community. We will continue relationships with regulars, welcome new customers and are continuing to work with Stockbridge Local, who have 3 fish suppers to win and we are offering everyone a free can of juice (excluding San Pellegrino) with every supper purchased before the end of the month."
"Franco’s is an institution I’ve been going to for 20yrs. The banter was always good and Veronica babysat all our 3 kids growing up. What can you say about Vinnie…legend. The family will be greatly missed”.
Moira is a gem, a one off. I’ve bought my papers there for 20yrs and loved her chat. Always cheery even when winding her up about Hearts. It’s gone full circle as she started telling me when my sons were coming home at 4am instead of me. I will miss her greatly."
Local John Donnelly, CEO Marketing Edinburgh
Moira Barnes from Penicuik also stands down after selling the Sunday ‘papers on Raeburn Place, Stockbridge since 1978, over 38 years ago. Moira’s husband, David stood in to cover the stand on 1 January 1978, which then turned into Moria taking over 6 months later.
Moira was once awarded a ‘Community Award’ by The Edinburgh Evening News.
Sunday 18 June was the last day Moira rose at 2.30am to start her day selling the Sunday ‘papers to the people of Stockbridge. Locals came out in force to wish the humble Moria their cheerios, armed with presents and taking photos.
“Hail, rain, snow, Moira would be there, never complained and often didn’t even wear gloves in the winter, always with a smile”. Locals, Moira & Mike Power
“We’ll have to organise and OBE for Moira, a wonderful woman, who I’ve been getting my paper from since day one as did my parents. I cancelled my weekend away, just to wish farewell to this wonderful woman and I know someone that came in specially from Fife to say cheerio. I used to take Moira some onions and potatoes from my allotment, she will be sadly missed in the area.” Local, Stewart Dickson
“Moira is the most amazing person I’ve ever met, I lost my husband and enjoyed seeing Moira with my dog, Zack”. Local, Elaine
“All the dogs loved Moira, she always had a treat for every dog. Moira was like the community hub who brought people together, almost like the modern kirk where people would stop and have a good chat”. James Simpson
Moira would often be seen propped up against the stand reading her book in between serving customers. She was only absent for comfort breaks and the Scran & Scallie would bring her a coffee each morning.
Susannah heard some interesting stories from Moira and from locals who only knew her from buying their Sunday ‘paper from Moira. The newspaper stand has been manned for over 100 years. Moira spoke about the early days when the van would pull up with the ‘papers and the guys would throw them from the back of the van in through the window of the gift shop next door, where they would stay dry on rainy days, then chuckles that that would never be allowed these days. Local businesses and residents clubbed together to present Moira with a farewell gift.
New to the Stockbridge community are:
The Six Cafe, a cute, little café and deli with a Scandinavian flair. Apart from breakfast and lunch, they offer delicious, homemade sweet treats and freshly made smoothies along with their own 'Six of Stockbridge' coffee. In addition to an outside area, it is the perfect place to sip a coffee or enjoy a freshly made sandwich while enjoying the sunshine or being cosy inside with a hot chocolate on a rainy day. They are offering Stockbridge Locals a free 'Six of Stockbridge' coffee with every gourmet sandwich and cake purchased, simply email to receive you unique code.
Pastry Section, a contemporary pastry house, serving delicious home-made cakes on site. Relax and sit in while watching the world go by with a cuppa or take a cake or two away in a lovely box with a coffee to keep you going.