The story begins in the small village of Rohrbach, near Vienna, Austria, where Ignatz Salamon, grandfather of the present owner ran a small general store.
The Salamon family store in Rohrbach, Austria, with Wally and his 2 brothers sitting on the steps with their mother
Ignatz was born in Poland and with the Nazis advancing through Europe in 1939 he decided to move to the UK with his wife and 3 young children. Walter Salamon, who would later become the founder of Wally’s Delicatessen, was just 3 years old at that time.
Ignatz joined the Pioneer Corp of the British Army, largely made up of Poles and other displaced persons. Following the war Ignatz moved his family to South Wales where he took a job in a zip factory where his brother was working and where he was able to accumulate a little capital and improve his English. Then, in 1947, he decided to open a delicatessen in Bridge Street in Cardiff, on the site where the John Lewis store now stands.
Ignatz (also known as Ivor) had the benefit of his experience of running a general store in Austria and this was to prove invaluable to him in his new venture. Responding to the needs of the newly arrived immigrant community from Eastern Europe, the shop soon started selling and specialising in Polish cooked meats and pickles, Hungarian salamis, German hams and sausages and European-style breads. The shop rapidly established a reputation for it’s European products, many of which were obtained from London-based importers and had never before been seen in this part of the country. The shop was a constant hub of activity, and a meeting place for it’s customers who would converse with each other and with the staff in a variety of languages. This is still the case today!