Standing proudly on Osbourne road sits Andre’s Food Bar, Southsea’s oldest sandwich shop and this week I caught up with co-owner of the business Antony to chat about its history. Antony is the cousin of Andre and they both worked together to revamp the business in 2016 when Andre’s french dad retired, changing the family business name that most people will remember as being La Croissantiere. Having now been open for 2 years it seemed the right time to open a second shop which would actually sit quite close to the original establishment that Andre’s parents had owned in Guildhall Walk.
The new premises, situated on Lord Montgomery Way, has great footfall with the university sitting close by. Stepping into the new shop it has the same presence that Andre’s is famous for, a white and black theme running throughout but with little twists like the original ceilings and shop window. Antony said they were very keen to keep as much of the original features as possible. The dark green ceiling has a classic feel about it, mixed with metro tiles and the famous sign that sits on the back wall. The new shop size is exactly the same dimensions and shape as Osborne Road, so that was a real bonus when signing for the shop.
Having visited the Italian deli that stood there before and was also renowned for being a family business, I was interested to find out that the owners wanted to sell to another Portsmouth family business and it was important to both sides when negotiating the terms for the hand over. Antony then talked about the family history and the fact that Andre and Antony’s grandfather had been a baker, owning a shop called Laits on Fawcett Road from 1956 to 1984. Lots of people remember the shop quite clearly and there would be men on bikes delivering muffins all across Portsmouth, so people used to call them the muffin men. Next time you wander into Andre’s and see a bike on the wall, it could be to represent the muffin man and that wonderful piece of family history!
All of the family traditions that have been held for over 30 years are still there in both locations. Knowing that Andre has worked in the family business since he was a young boy has a real sense of nostalgia and tradition that’s rare nowadays. I like that. It’s good for the soul to think you can go into your favourite sandwich shop and order food from someone who has grown up knowing the business all their life, and they’re still delivering the same quality of food. Of course, the famous baguettes are still baked fresh every day. You can pick up sandwiches with great fillings, quiches and French breakfast delights plus my ultimate favourite the baked sweet potato with signature cheese-slaw. Oh, it’s the bee’s knees!
Knowing all of this it makes total sense that Andre’s won a gold award this year at the ‘Sammies’, an event held in London by The British Sandwich and Food to Go Association. Having big names from the bread industry supporting this event and being up against all other independent sandwich shops across the UK means this is a huge achievement! It is such sad news that Mr Guedeny (Andre’s father) passed away a short time ago but he would have been proud of the company’s hard work, achievements and of course winning the world cup!
By Louise O’Brien