Stamped with the CLARPIE seal of approval, Cardiff-based Clark’s Original Pies has become a Welsh institution in its own right.
Clark’s Original Pies was founded by Mary Clark in 1913, when she her husband Arthur and their children moved to the capital.
The first home of the legendary pie creators was at 93 Donald Street, Roath, but the success of the shop was short lived, as it was soon forced to close down due to meat rationing in the First World War.
In the early 1920s the Clark’s name was to be revived as Mary and her family opened another shop at 40 Union Street, Cardiff.
As popularity grew for Cardiff’s traditional pies, the Clark family opened yet another shop in Paget Street, Grangetown. By 1928 Clark’s Pies had three shops in the city and from 1934 CLARPIE became a registered trademark. It was from this point they began stamping the bottoms of their pies with the CLARPIE seal of authenticity.
Hit by another bout of rationing in the Second World War, Clark’s closed the Paget Street branch, but it returned to the streets of Grangetown in 1955, when Mary Clark’s grandson, Dennis Dutch, opened the Bromsgrove Street bakery and shop.
Now the only Welsh Clarks store is still housed on Bromsgrove Street and with more than 50 open years under its belt, it is the flagship premises for the business.
Clarke’s is now run by Dennis’s daughters Beverly and Amanda, and next year the legendary pie makers and their secret Mary Clark recipes are due to celebrate 100 years of feeding the inhabitants of Cardiff.
Amanda Rosoman, who has been a partner in the business for almost 20 years, said: “We have already got a few people and companies approaching us about helping us celebrate the 100 years, but we are not sure what we are going to do yet. We have had a few ideas including holding a festival on The Marl in Grangetown. ”
Even though the official month of Clark’s Pies creation remains unknown, Amanda said they would probably hold the celebrations on a memorable day, such as the birthday of one of the founders.
Despite making plans for their centenary, Clark’s has been hit hard by some tragic news this year. “We have had a sad year, our bakery supervisor Ryan Williams sadly died of leukemia in January. Ryan was a respected and trusted employee of Clark’s Original Pies and he has been sadly missed over the past months of his illness and he will continue to be missed by all of us,” added Amanda.
The Clark's Pies Lingo
Clarkies / Clarksies:
The colloquial nickname given to Clark's Pies.
A Clark's Tash:
The nickname given to burning the upper lip with the hot filling.
The Hanging Gardens of Grangetown:
The nickname given to burning the lower lip with the hot filling.
With hundreds of types of pies filling their recipe books, it is a difficult task to choose the most popular variety, but potato and beef pie seems to be the front-runner. With a safely guarded secret recipe, it is no wonder the pie has remained so popular over the years.
Clark’s Pies has a flock of loyal customers. “We have a lot of regular customers, it’s quite funny really because we have people who come in here everyday.
Up until he passed away a couple of years a go, we had one man who used to own a Penarth fish shop and he would come in every single day when he retired. He would have one hot pie and one cold pie, and he did that everyday. ”
The bakery makes thousands of pies a day, but Amanda said because they supply Cardiff City fans with their half-time snacks, their busiest days are when the football team take to the pitch. “We get really busy on match days and they can have a huge effect on how many pies we make in a day,” she said.
With the store now being run by the fourth generation of Clark’s, Dennis’s daughters, the pie veteran is still helping out where he can, and at 81 he is showing no signs of getting bored of the family run empire.
Amanda said: “He was still coming into work up until a few years ago, and he still pays an active part in the business. I think he really does miss it. ”
In the spirit of National Pie Week, Clark’s Original Pies have been showing why they really are the traditional pie of Cardiff. Amanda said: “We have been working with Capital Radio over the past week to celebrate pie week, and we always have our free pie Wednesday’s competition."