With its quaint and traditional interior, Bettys Stonegate is a charming place to take a break from shopping or sightseeing in the famous city of York.
Situated in a listed building on medieval Stonegate, just a stone’s throw from York Minster, you’ll be greeted by a characterful shop with antique dressers and cabinets, stocked with an extensive range of teas and coffees, cakes and gifts.
Up a flight of winding stairs there’s a cosy café with wooden beams, and roaring fires in the winter. Just as our cakes and breads celebrate the best of traditional craft skills, so too do our interiors.
At Bettys Stonegate be sure to look out for fixtures and fittings by the ‘Mouseman of Kilburn’, whose oak carvings all carry a trademark ‘signature’ mouse. Bettys Stonegate is also home to a large collection of prints, advertisements and paraphernalia, which tell the story of the tea trade.
Bettys was founded by Frederick Belmont, a Swiss baker and confectioner who came to England in search of opportunities to develop his craft skills. He opened his first Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate in 1919 and named it ‘Bettys’. The reason why remains a mystery to this day.
Lots of things have changed since then. We now have six Café Tea Rooms in Yorkshire and the Bettys name has become famous the world over. We’ve also added a mail order service which delivers deliciousness to homes from Tunbridge Wells to Tokyo, and we share our knowledge and passion for food through Bettys Cookery School.
But in other ways, we’re unchanged. Still family-owned, we believe in doing business in a way that is fair to people and kind to the planet. And at our Craft Bakery in Harrogate we still practice the artisan skills that Frederick Belmont brought to Yorkshire from Switzerland nearly 100 years ago.
After losing his parents at an early age, Frederick Belmont spent his teens in apprenticeships for all manner of bakers and confectioners across Europe. By the time he arrived in England his head was filled with knowledge of their craft – and dreams of his future.
Fortunately, the beautiful countryside and sweet 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 warmth and hospitality in such an elegant setting proved irresistible. Bettys was an instant success and was soon able to boast of ‘Royal and Distinguished Patronage’ on its letterhead.
In the 1920s Frederick opened a Craft Bakery in Harrogate, complete with its own orchard. Thanks to the new Bakery, Frederick was able to open Bettys branches in other Yorkshire towns including a flagship café in York, the design of which was inspired by the magnificent Queen Mary Cruise liner. His York tea rooms became particularly popular during the war years when the basement ‘Bettys Bar’ became the favourite destination of the hundreds of American and Canadian ‘Bomber Boys’ stationed around York. ‘Bettys Mirror’, on which many of them engraved their signatures with a diamond pen, still hangs in the branch today.
The years passed, and the business was handed down through the family, who still own Bettys today. In the early sixties Bettys bought Taylors of Harrogate, a family-run tea and coffee merchant, also based in Harrogate. It proved to be a winning combination.
With six Bettys Café Tea Rooms across Yorkshire, our own Cookery School and a home delivery service, the business has certainly grown. But we remain true to Frederick’s founding principles.
We’re devoted to doing things beautifully; from the cakes, breads and fancies made fresh each day at our Craft Bakery, to the way we look after our customers. And this is matched by the respectful manner in which we deal with the people who grow our speciality teas and gourmet coffees.
After 80 years the identity of Betty still remains a family mystery – although over the years many explanations have been offered.
Frederick could have named his Tea Rooms after the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, who was born at the turn of the century. Or perhaps a former manageress of the Harrogate Spa, Betty Lupton, ‘Queen of the Harrogate Wells’.
There’s a sentimental tale of young Betty, a doctor’s daughter, who died of tuberculosis and whose father’s practice on Cambridge Crescent later became the first Bettys Café Tea Rooms.
Our favourite story, however, is the one which tells of a small girl interrupting the very first Board Meeting when the issue of what to call the Tea Rooms was being discussed. The girl’s name, of course, was Betty.
Saturdays 9:00am to 5.30pm
Sunday to Friday 10:00am to 5.00pm
Betty’s is the sole reason i come to York as regularly as i do, and it never fails to let me down. The most delicious coffee you are likely to taste, with the most delicious cakes to accompany it.
If only they delivered!