Frymax case study
Article Date: 2014-05-19
Seventy Five Years In The Valleys
Margaritelli’s the only remaining fish and chip shop in Ferndale, Rhondda Fach, has been trading for over 75 years and has been using Frymax since its launch in 1954.
The current owner, Mrs Ilda Margaritelli, started working in the shop in 1948 and in 1950 she and her husband bought it from her brother-in-law Mr Serafino Pesci. The shop is now run by Ilda’s son Giuliano.
Ilda recalls the coal range of yesteryear, replaced by a Preston & Thomas in the 1950s and by three more since. "I well remember the old coal range. One day I put some wood on by mistake. A small fire started and we had to close the shop for a week. I’m pleased to say that since then we have had no further incidents.”
"In the early days our main fish was hake. It was delivered by train from the docks and on a Thursday I would clean and cut 10 stone of hake in preparation for the Friday trade. In those days we also removed the heads of the fish. The potatoes came in large sacks. The Frymax was delivered directly from the Peerless factory. I remember the rationing of oil and how pleased we all were when it finished. Today the main fish is cod and plaice, the Maris Pipers come in 25kg bags and the Frymax comes from Catering Connect.”
In the 1950s a portion of chips cost 3 old pence (1.25p); today the cost is £1.40. We have changed our menu to offer smaller portion sizes to an ageing population and we now stay open in the afternoon as many of our customers like to visit us then. Two things haven’t changed. The batter is a special recipe paseed down through the generations and the oil is Frymax. We have used Frymax for 60 years because it is a top quality product. It has no smell; it isn’t greasy and most important of all the food tastes lovely.”
There used to be six fish and chip shops in Ferndale supported by a workforce of miners and their families. Friday was fish day and after the cinema people would queue out in the street for their fish and chips from 10.30 . We stayed open and were busy until midnight. Today we are the only fish and chip shop in Ferndale. The younger generation may have moved away in search of work but they come back to us from Cardiff, Pontyprydd and all the local villages for their fish and chips."
Giuliano was born into the trade. In fact he was born above the shop and started working in the shop when he was nine years old, standing on a box to serve the customers. He formally joined the business after leaving school and has now clocked up over 30 years. Giuliano believes that two factors have helped Margaritelli’s maintain their business over so many years while others in the area have closed.
He says, "Most important is the quality of our food. We use top quality ingredients to produce the best tasting food for our customers. We cook well. Frying is always done by a member of the family experienced in our procedures and knowledgeable about our range. Secondly we are a part of the community. We have been here for over 70 years and I have been in the shop for over 30 years. Our customers know us and more importantly we know our customers. That’s why even though many have moved away they drive back to us for their fish and chips.”
Much has changed in the Rhondda during the past 70 years but Margaritelli’s have shown that by maintaining high quality standards and adapting to meet the needs of a changing community there is still a place for a quality fish and chip shop in Rhondda Fach.
Andrew Marriot of Frymax with Giuliano and Ilda