One of the regular faces for a spell was A.T. Assafrey, pictured above. Born in 1844 in Estonia, son of a flour miller, Jacob Assafrey and his wife Anna. He qualified as a master confectioner in Talinn, Estonia (which at the time was Reval, Livonia, Russia) before emigrating to Scotland. Initially he found employment with Ferguson and Forrester, caterers. The advert for their business below from the 27 Dec 1856 Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald shows that confectionery was part of their offering.
The 1871 census finds Alexander as one of five lodgers of various nationalities at a dwelling on Hospital Street Govan. His occupation was described as a confectioner. The business that he set up around this time was styled as a 'chocolatier et confiseur' at 171 Sauchiehall Street and was "an early representative of foreign sophistication in the city" according to the book 'Tea and Taste: The Glasgow Tea Rooms 1875-1975' by Perilla Kinchin. On 23 November 1871 Alexander married Rachel Torrance Atkins, who was the daughter of pianoforte maker Hugh Atkins (see his advert below from 15 July 1861 Glasgow Herald). They went on to have seven daughters: Hilda, Olga, Silvia, Selma, Ruby, Vera and Alma. Alexander was naturalised as a British citizen in 1876.
Assafrey's independent venture proved to be a great success and, in 1888, when it participated in the Glasgow International Exhibition, the business was described as follows:
"Five or six years subsequent to his first establishment in Sauchiehall Street, Mr Assafrey instituted a branch at 2 Rokeby Terrace, Hillhead, which is now in most flourishing circumstances, and about eighteen months ago he opened another depot at 78 St. Vincent Street. Both these establishments have done well, carrying on a growing business for themselves. The premises at headquarters in Sauchiehall Street comprise an extensive and well-situated shop with a luxuriantly appointed refreshment and general saloon in the rear, and in connection are culinary departments, in which are prepared many of the delicious confections and choice dishes for which the place has become famous. In St. Vincent Street is another large shop with another saloon, also of elegant appointment, while at Hillhead the depot comprises a shop and saleroom only.
At 121 Sauchiehall Lane the house has a large factory, extending quite through from the lane to Bath Street. This place is most completely equipped, employs a numerous force of hands, and is devoted exclusively to the manufacture of chocolate and cocoa powder, this house being reputed as the only one in Scotland extensively combining tile production of both these articles in one industry. Assafrey's soluble cocoa powder is one of the most familiar preparations of its kind in the Scottish market, and is renowned for its delicate flavour and excellence of quality. Every description of improved and labour-saving machinery is employed.
The specialities of the house consist in fine French confectionery in all its branches : wedding cakes, choice fancy dishes, ices for dinner and other parties, and bonbons, chocolate caramels and superior sweetmeats of every kind. In ices the firm have an unsurpassed reputation, and their connection for these dainty goods extends throughout the most distinguished social circles all over Scotland. The name of Assafrey in relation to bonbons is a synonym for excellence throughout Great Britain. His house is most particularly renowned for these ever-popular sweetmeats, many of which are his own invention, and he is recognised as the practical introducer of these goods in this country, where he has developed in them a business of very great magnitude. The stock held at headquarters in Sauchiehall Street is particularly large and comprehensive, and abounds in novel, unique, and interesting features.
Mr. Assafrey conducts his business with exemplary enterprise and conspicuous commercial and practical ability. At the Glasgow Exhibition he is exhibiting in the Machinery Department an installation of his fine chocolate machinery, and at the same Exhibition, which, promises to be a perfect symposium of everything that Glasgow can accomplish in the peaceful arts and industries, he will have a typical kiosk, whereat will be retailed to lovers of confectionery all descriptions of the bonbons, chocolate sweetmeats, and ices for which this house is so deservedly noted."
The successful involvement in the Exhibition acted as a catalyst for further expansion, particularly in the tea and luncheon room side of his business. In the 1890s several more premises were opened in Glasgow and a branch was opened in Edinburgh on Princes Street. It was around the turn of the century that the Assafreys began to spend their summers in Lundin Links. The list of summer visitors published in the local papers shows them at Emsdorf House in 1901 and 1902; Keil Bank in 1904 (when the daughters performed at the Improvement Fund Concert) and Monkton Lodge in 1905. In 1905 the family were part of the "fashionable assemblage" at the opening of the Lundin Bowling Club. The event is pictured below - the gentlemen to the left of the magnified part of the photo perhaps being Mr Assafrey. Alexander lived until 1930, passing away at the age of 85 at his home at Kirn on the Firth of Clyde.