The beloved bodegas Ed McIntosh used to frequent as a kid in the Bronx are the muse for his latest pint-sized project in Old Town.
The chef-owner’s new namesake carryout, dubbed Eddie’s Little Shop and Deli (1406 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia) opens in February with hearty sandwiches, cooking classes, Lyon Bakery breads, and thoughtful pantry essentials to “round out weekly grocery shopping” lists, he tells Eater.
The CIA grad, who’s worked at Great American Restaurants and Hillstone Restaurant Group, was most recently affiliated with tiny Chop Shop Taco—the edgy Mexican eatery he opened in a converted Alexandria auto body garage in 2019. When the pandemic hit, he says he took a “fulfilling” break from day-to-day operations by taking a nonprofit job teaching culinary classes to low-income immigrant families in Arlington. He says he “parted on good terms” with Chop Shop’s team to pursue his longtime dream of opening an old-school neighborhood takeout that conjures memories of his NYC upbringing.
“It goes back to my childhood of going to a tiny local butcher, fishmonger, and salumeria,” he says. “That first slice of prosciutto handed over the counter for guests to enjoy as an amuse bouche.”
On one side of the 1,100-square-foot store, the Italian-Scottish chef plans to host cooking classes on the art of making mozzarella and handmade pastas. The same dairy and carbs will also be available for sale “to replicate at home with friends and family,” he says. High-end items like truffles will also be stocked on-site.
A small section will be carved out for a deli, where freshly-made cold cuts take center stage. During his time at Chop Shop Taco, McIntosh manned a meaty menu of taco toppings like brisket braised in beef fat and roasted pork shoulder. At Eddie’s, slow-roasted prime rib sandwiches built on bread from Hyattsville’s Lyon Bakery will join prepared cheese, charcuterie, and vegetable boards. Hand-pulled, marinated mozzarella rolled around on a mid-century tea cart will also make its way into sandwiches and salads.
“I’m paying attention to sandwiches like a mixologist pays attention to a drink,” he says.
Toasting rosemary focaccia right before wrapping up its sandwich, for instance, offers a similar sensory experience as a mixologist smoking a bourbon cocktail.
“When you’re at the office or home eating it you get that same effect,” he says.
In a post-pandemic world, he gladly ditches QR codes in favor of face-to-face interactions to build a regular customer base.
“I want people to think they’re coming into my home; it goes back to the idea of coming into ‘Eddie’s place,’” says McIntosh, noting his dad always went by “Ed” and he went by “Eddie.”
Checkered vinyl flooring, Tiffany pendant lights made of stained glass, and drapes add to the old-timey vibe at Eddie’s. “I want to make it feel as warm and comfortable as possible,” he says.
A Korean couple formerly ran a well-kept convenience store in the same King Street space since the mid-’90s. They were ready to retire, he says, and handed over the keys in November.