The story of our business from 1886 to today
The business we have today was built on the entrepreneurial spirit of two master craftsmen; Charles Taylor, a master tea blender, and Frederick Belmont, a confectioner and chocolatier from Switzerland.
In 1886, Charles Taylor established C.E. Taylor & Son, a tea and coffee importing and blending business in Leeds. By buying the best tea leaves and coffee beans, and carefully blending teas to suit the local water, Charles established a reputation for quality, winning a gold medal at the London Grocery Exhibition in 1896. Charles also opened a number of ‘Kiosk’ Coffee Shops in Yorkshire towns, and the Café Imperial tea rooms in Ilkley and Harrogate.
While Charles Taylor was growing his tea and coffee business, a young Swiss orphan named Fritz Bützer was perfecting his baking and confectionery skills. Fritz had an ambition to travel to England to establish his own business. A letter to his sister in Switzerland in 1907 recalls how he arrived in London, with barely any money and unable to understand English. By accident he found himself on a train to Yorkshire and arrived in Bradford, where he decided to stay and found work as a pastry chef in one of the hotels. Later he moved to Harrogate and the opportunity he had been waiting for presented itself. He married a Harrogate girl, changed his name to Frederick Belmont, and opened the first Bettys Café Tea Rooms in the town in July 1919, right opposite Taylors Café Imperial.
The combination of Swiss patisserie, beautiful interiors and friendly service meant that Bettys was an immediate success, and during the 1920s and 30s Frederick opened more branches of Bettys in Yorkshire, the grandest being in St. Helen’s Square in York.
By the early 1960s Bettys was owned and managed by Frederick’s nephew, Victor Wild. The story recalls that a Bettys waitress overheard two customers discussing the fact that the Taylors business was looking for new owners, and so in 1962 Victor and his family purchased Taylors Tea and Coffee, at the same time acquiring the two impressive Café Imperials in Harrogate and Ilkley.
In the years since Taylors has remained true to the principles established by Charles Taylor of buying the best and blending tea to suit the water. Taylors Café Imperials in Harrogate and Ilkley were reopened as Bettys Café Tea Rooms, and today there are six Bettys, all in Yorkshire, as well as a Craft Bakery, Cookery School and Online Shop.
If you’d like to know more about the history of Bettys & Taylors, you can find the story in ‘Hearts, Tarts and Rascals, the story of Bettys’, written by Frederick’s Great Nephew, Jonathan Wild. It is full of anecdotes and beautifully illustrated with photographs from the family archives.