Sweet stories from Buda
Elek Auguszt opened his shop in 1870 in the village-like Tabán. Do not think of today’s confectioneries; there was no chocolate nor coffee, it was rather like a candy shop. Before acquiring the confectionery licence, the master spent his apprenticeship in Balassagyarmat for five years, and when he returned to Buda, he refined his knowledge in the Friedl Confectionery in Fő Street. The little shop and going to confectioneries became increasingly popular by the end of the 19th century. After that Auguszt died in 1881, his widow took over the shop while their son learned the profession. It is important to note that the role of women in the family was at least as important as that of men who worked in this profession. Returning to the story, although their son E. József Auguszt wanted to be a sculptor and not a confectioner, he continued the family tradition. In 1896, he won a gold medal with his sculpture composition made out of sugar at the National Millennial Expo. According to the customs of the period, he went on field trips to Paris and to London in 1900; after returning home, he married Vilma Helvey. He opened an elegant shop on the corner of Krisztina Square in 1916, which was known as the “Gerbeaud of Buda”. Owing to the interior and a wide palette of goods at the confectionery salon, it became the favourite of the citizens of Buda soon. Business profited so well that the family bought a hotel in Abbazia (Opatija) in 1922. But their opening towards tourism was only a blinking of their excellent business skills; the confectionery was always the life of the family.
The jewel box
E. József Auguszt’s favourite “child” was their pavilion on Hidegkúti Road: the Auguszt-Pavilion. The shop was of the highest quality and its employees were immaculately well-mannered and served politely. At the main entrance, a porter in white gloves used to receive guests, salon music used to be played during the afternoon and a gypsy band played during the evening. In 1923, even a restaurant operated here, and the delicious food arrived straight from Krisztina Square. Elek József Auguszt always received his guests with modest attentiveness and outstanding politeness. The Pavilion was last open in the year 1943, and was badly damaged during the World War; its furniture was destroyed completely.
What was the secret? That there was no secret, only the love of confectionary, vocation and unexampled diligence. According to the family’s diary, Mrs. Auguszt used to open the shop in Krisztina Square. Coffee steamed already at 7 am and the scent of chocolate filled the air in the place. Sandwich making employees were also busy in order to prepare everything for the guests arriving for breakfast by 9 o’clock. E. József Auguszt worked without holidays, and had hardly any social life. He greeted every guest, offered novelties to his acquaintances – and a smile goes with every coffee even today at the Auguszt’s anyway. They also followed fashion; they ran home delivery, first by cart and later by car. They prepared well ahead for feasts; started wrapping Santa chocolates in tinfoil as early as in November, and they had ice-cream in winter as well, because they were famous for their parfait compositions.
The golden age was interrupted by the WW II, though they kept on working until it was possible, with a reduced palette of goods naturally. When a bomb crashed into the shop in 1945, it seemed that it was the end, but the family reopened the confectionery. In 1948, E. József Auguszt died at the age of 73. Fortunately, he did not witness that his shop was socialised in 1951 and he did not see when his son Elemér and his family were deported to Taktaszada. The family could return only in 1957 and could open their tiny little shop in Fény Street. Their son József Auguszt spent his apprenticeship at the Vörösmarty’s (the former Gerbeaud’s). His children Olga and József also learnt the confectioner profession. Thus, the family became a sweet dynasty that has been exercising this wonderful profession for the fifth generation now. Presently, you can enjoy their sweets in three shops of the family. On the Buda side: in Fény Street and on Sasadi Road (at the new Pavilion), and on the Pest side: in their shop in Kossuth Lajos Street.
Translated by Zita Aknai
Gundel Imre – Harmath Judit, A vendéglátás emlékei, Közgazdasági és Jogi, Budapest, 1982.