Betsy & Bo
Venture down the vertiginous Staithes bank and the rewards are plenty; pantiled, whitewashed fisherman’s cottages tumble together hugger-mugger, with narrow stone-flagged ginnels criss-crossing the village like arteries from the cobbled High Street. In many ways it’s a charming time-warp community, but look closer and there are some surprises.
Behind a beautiful window (crafted by local trompe l’oeil ‘artist to the stars’ Paul Czainski) is Betsy & Bo. Originally a gift shop selling everything from nine inch nails to postcards, in 2016 it was bought by Luke and Sophie Wooster and opened as a ‘bespoke’ sweet emporium and general store, named after their twin daughters.
Fabulous handcrafted chocolates nestle under glass domes and the original shop shelves groan with jars of liquorice, humbugs and sherbet dabs. Who can resist a beautifully packaged bar of salted caramel from the iconic American Mast Brothers?
Luke spent his childhood holidays in Staithes – his parents bought a harbour-side house in the 1960s – and he’s a happy returnee. ‘Life in London with a young family was beginning to get too stressful and no fun, so we packed our bags and came back to the coast’ he says, ‘and we thought a sweet shop would be fab! The village has got such a nice mix of people – residents and holidaymakers – and there’s lots going on.’
The stylish, contemporary Aladdin’s Cave of a general store is tastefully stocked with good wine and beer, immaculately sourced extra virgin olive oil, Italian nougat, jars of herbs and spices, udon noodles, jars of butter beans from Spain and balsamic vinegar from Modena. But there are plenty of local products too, including cheese from the Courtyard Dairy, sourdough bread from Beech Grove Bakery in Runswick Bay, Yorkshire rapeseed oil, Whitby Gin and fabulous cakes from Renaissance Patisserie in Saltburn.
Upstairs, you can learn how to temper artisan chocolate on the massive marble table; ‘we’re training up people from the village who’ve shown an interest’ says Sophie. ‘We want to be thought of as one of the hubs of the village, and create the kind of shop you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find in this kind of seaside location, and involve as many local people as possible in it.’
In the summer, there are takeaway salad boxes and sandwiches for a beach picnic, and Frozzy’s yogurt for your canine chum. But if you want to linger, score an excellent espresso from the gleaming Italian coffee machine, sit outside and watch the world go by.
Betsy & Bo
T: 01947 840059
Opening hours: 7 days a week, 10am – 5pm (hours may change over winter)
Betsy & Bo, Victoria House, High Street, Staithes TS13 5BQ