For more than two decades Franco Asiatico and his team of Italian bakers have been helping to brighten up the greyest of Edinburgh days.
With its own brand of Mediterranean magic, the Sicilian Pastry Shop in Albert Street, Leith, exudes sunshine from every shelf.
Having trained in Italy near his hometown of Sapri, Franco moved to Scotland in 1979 and worked for almost 17 years as a chef before buying the business from its original owner, a friend from Palermo.
Retaining most of the existing employees, he built on the shop’s established reputation, allowing the business to evolve and develop over time.
The shop’s signature made-to-order sponge cake – a best-seller for birthdays and other special occasions – can cost anything from £17.50 to £144, depending on size and specifications.
The choice of indulgent ingredients and adornments includes profiteroles, cream, fresh fruit, jam, creme patisserie, chocolate and liqueurs – in any and every combination.
The fact that the team now fulfils orders for around 300 cakes a week speaks for itself, as do the rave reviews on Facebook and the queue which regularly spills out of the shop and onto the pavement.
“We will never be big-headed and say that we are good or better than others, because it is our customers who decide if we are good,” says 56-year-old Franco.
His wife Jacqueline is also involved in the family-run business, while their son Umberto plays a leading role in the bakery, with responsibility for novelty cakes and wedding cakes. “When you are producing 15,000 cakes a year, with only two or three complaints, you know your customers are happy and that’s what is important. They like our cakes and the service we provide,” he adds.
Orders for desserts are welcome too, and Franco is just as happy to whip up a New York cheesecake or banoffee pie as a traditional Italian tiramisu. He also caters for breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks, serving up everything from delicious Danish pastries, to pies, savouries and sandwiches.
“Everything we sell is made fresh that day and at busy times that can mean someone starting at 2am,” he says. “It is only when you are making things fresh that you can give your customers exactly what they want.”
The Sicilian Pastry Shop, 14-16 Albert Street, EH7 5LG, 0131 554 7417, also on Facebook. Open: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm.