It is a Yorkshire institution, beloved for its chocolate boxes, rostis and fat rascals, but the chain of tea rooms that stretches from York to Ilkley and back, has its roots in the Swiss Alps.
Bettys, the family-owned cafe business that has been a fixture in Harrogate since 1919, is marking its centenary with a newly commissioned history book by the food writer, Annie Gray. It was launched yesterday, to the clink of tea cups, at the group’s flagship premises on the corner of Parliament Street.
The book traces the firm’s history from the end of the 19th century, when an orphaned baker’s son named Fritz Bützer, abandoned by relatives in Bern to a local farmer, struck out on his own and made his way through France and Switzerland, learning the traditional skills of confectioner and chocolatier.
Arriving in England to try his luck, he made his way to Bradford and found work at a Swiss-owned shop.
A decade later, having moved upmarket to Harrogate and anglicised his name to Frederick Belmont, he married his landlady’s daughter and used her family’s money to finance a shop on Cambridge Crescent.
Lesley Wild, the firm’s present chair, said the publication of previously unseen photographs, sketches and postcards from the family’s archive and personal records, was the ideal way to end the centenary year.
“We feel very proud to round off our celebrations by sharing a slice of Yorkshire history for customers, colleagues and future generations,” she said.
Bettys present cafe in Harrogate is around the corner from the original one, and it also has a branch at the nearby Harlow Carr gardens as well as its outposts in Northallerton, Ilkley and York – whose décor Mr Belmont commissioned from the designers of the Queen Mary cruise liner.