Crouch Hill sandwich king Max grows his empire
- Credit: Archant
Max Halley’s grin will be a familiar sight to anyone who’s ever gone looking for lunch in Stroud Green Road. He tells David Child why he’s so happy.
You haven’t eaten out in Islington until you’ve chewed the fat with Max Halley.
The proud owner of Max’s Sandwich Shop in Crouch Hill, with an eye on a second branch in Dalston, he oozes enthusiasm.
“When I was little all of my friends wanted to play the guitar or skateboard, but I just wanted to eat,” he said.
“So I realised I should probably work in food.”
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Opened in November 2014, the business has become a local institution.
Max, 34, credits his success to knowing which fillings would fit the area.
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“I put all my eggs in one basket to open here,” he said. “I needed to minimise the chance of it failing, and by opening a restaurant where I live I was able to use the eyes of a customer.
“I thought: ‘What does someone who lives here want and what does the area need?’
“Usually these variables are difficult to judge, but I didn’t have to do that.
“I just looked at the place and thought: ‘That’s what I want’.”
Born in Somerset, Max moved to London to take up a course in ancient history at UCL.
Following graduation he sampled the careers menu before deciding on opening the shop – now run with the help of his sister Lydia, 32.
“I did some odd jobs in food for a while – I even worked in a pudding factory,” he said.
“I wanted to see the food industry as a whole before pursuing a definite career.”
Having lived in Islington since 2001, Max enjoys every minute of the three it takes him to walk to work from his flat down the road.
“I love living here,” he said. “I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
“You come out of the Tube station and think ‘is this it?’, and then you go one minute in any direction and it’s wonderful, full of little nooks, crannies and loveliness.”
Max is opening his Dalston shop in the summer – but he’s in no rush to forget the crucial ingredients of his success – a simple idea, delivered in style.
“I guess it turned out there was a gap in the market for sandwiches of this ilk,” he said.
“Each one is a dish.”