Before we talk about the food, which owners Carl and Senait Robson say “speaks for Ethiopia”, one of the things that people like to talk about is the story and history of the person for which the restaurant was named, Empress Taytu.
Yes, there really was an Empress Taytu!
Her name was Taytu Betoul, and she was born in the 1840s and lived until 1918.
The most influential woman in modern Ethiopian history, Empress Taytu Betoul played an important role in the golden age of Ethiopia with her husband, Emperor Menelik II. She was the true founder of Ethiopia’s capital in the late 1800s, selecting the site and naming it Addis Ababa (‘new flower’). Very perceptive and strong willed, more so than her husband, she mistrusted the Italians and saw through their deception, attempting to make a protectorate of Ethiopia.
With Menelik, she was a strategist and moral supporter of their soldiers against the Italians at the Battle of Adwa in 1896, as the Ethiopian troops defeated the largest colonial force ever amassed on the African continent, maintaining Ethiopia as the only African nation never to be colonized. In 1907 she opened ‘Itege Taytu’ (‘Empress Taytu’), Ethiopia’s first hotel and restaurant, still open to this day. She ran the country herself during the 3 years until his death that her husband was incapacitated with a stroke.