A brief history of Bettys York
What role did a journey to America play in the design of Bettys York? What calling card did servicemen leave in the Oak Room during the second world war? And what happened at Bettys during the swinging 60s? Find out in our brief history of Bettys York.
In 1936 Frederick Belmont decided to open a new Bettys in York, and he had big ideas for what he envisaged would be his flagship branch. Following a voyage to America on the Queen Mary, Belmont was inspired by the Art Deco grandeur of the transatlantic liner, and employed the firm of London craftsmen responsible for the ship’s grand interiors to create his dream café. Bettys York, the fourth Bettys café at the time, opened on 1st June 1937.
During the war the Oak Room became Betty’s Bar (we still had an apostrophe then), a popular haunt among servicemen from nearby air bases. Some left a permanent reminder of their visit by inscribing their name onto a mirror which still hangs in the basement café.
The swinging 60s were a time of experimentation in the branch, and the business as a whole. The Belmont Room was converted into a self service restaurant and the Oak Room was transformed from a raucous basement bar to a chic Italian restaurant, complete with continental chefs and waiters.
The Belmont Room
In 1997, to mark Bettys York’s Diamond Anniversary of the York branch, the Belmont Room on the first floor of Bettys was restored. Many of its original Art Deco features were reinstated, such as elaborate brass grilles on the doors and etched glass panels depicting trees and mountains. Today this elegant and historic room is the venue for our reserved Lady Betty Afternoon Tea, as well as special events and private functions.