The business we have today was built on the entrepreneurial spirit of two master craftsmen; Frederick Belmont, a confectioner and chocolatier from Switzerland, and Charles Taylor, a master tea blender.
After losing his parents at an early age, Frederick Belmont spent his teens in apprenticeships for all manner of bakers and confectioners across Europe. His ambition was to travel to England to establish his own business – and in 1907 he purchased a one-way ticket to London. Unable to speak or understand English, he boarded a train to Yorkshire quite by accident.
Fortunately, the beautiful countryside and clear air reminded him of his native Switzerland – so much so, that he decided to stay. In 1919 he opened his first Bettys Café Tea Rooms in the fashionable spa town of Harrogate. The combination of mouth-watering Swiss confectionery and Yorkshire hospitality in an elegant setting proved irresistible. Bettys was an instant success and was soon able to boast of ‘Royal and Distinguished Patronage’ on its letterhead. Over the next two decades Frederick opened more branches in Yorkshire, including a flagship branch in York modeled on the Queen Mary cruise liner.
C. E. Taylor & Co, meanwhile, was another family business with a number of Yorkshire tea rooms. The business had been established by Charles Taylor in 1886, starting life as 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.
The years passed and by the early 1960s Bettys was led by Frederick’s nephew, Victor Wild. A story recalls how a Bettys waitress overheard two customers discussing the fact that the Taylors business was looking for new owners. Victor recognised the opportunity and in 1962 Victor and his family purchased C. E. Taylors, at the same time acquiring their cafes including the impressive Café Imperial in Harrogate.
It proved to be a winning combination. The Taylors Café Imperials in Harrogate and Ilkley were reopened as Bettys branches, and today there are six Bettys Café Tea Rooms – all in Yorkshire – as well as a Craft Bakery, Cookery School and online shop. Taylors moved to Harrogate – becoming Taylors of Harrogate – and focused on the founding passion of buying and blending exceptional teas and coffees.
Nearly 100 years since Bettys first opened its doors, and we’re still a family business, proud of our Yorkshire and Swiss roots, and still committed to quality, service and doing things properly.
Find out more about Bettys, Taylors of Harrogate and Yorkshire Tea.
Now a fourth generation family business we’re committed to being a responsible business that cares about and shares its success with stakeholders.
Being a family business, it’s no surprise that we think of our business as a legacy, to be handed down to future generations of stakeholders.