Flourishing Coffee House Culture
The 1st World War has put an end to the golden age of the coffee house culture, but after the war the coffee house life continued to flourish and the Belvárosi Kávéház was busier than ever before. It was the most democratic cafés of all, it had a lot of writers and artists among its regular guests, but it neither was a literary nor an art coffee house. Rather it was the always busy, full of life, famous meeting point for all; it welcomed the lawyers, judges, military officers, scientists, salesmen, public servants and all kinds of workers alike; which might have been one of the secret ingredients of its success.
The Belvárosi Kávéház was managed by a prominent local restaurateur dynasty, the Rónay, for almost four decades during its glorious history. After the 2nd World War and the siege of Budapest the Belvárosi Kávéház was the very first business in the city to reopen its doors to the public. On the ruined streets of Budapest the Café’s opening was a very strong message and an encouragement to the residents of the city that life still goes on. In those challenging times the aroma of freshly ground coffee meant everything, it was a promise of a new beginning. It was Egon Rónay who reopened the café – with the only thing that was left in the cellar, where they stocked up for the war, coffee – helping to restart the life in Budapest and lifting up the morale of the people.
In 1946 Egon Rónay emigrated to London where later he became an acclaimed food critic and got well known for the series of his guidebooks that he wrote and published about the British and Irish hotels and restaurants in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Today with the creation of our signature Matild Cake we wish to pay tribute to our great ancestors, who played a prominent role in the shaping of the Hungarian gastronomic scene.