York restaurant with ‘incredible’ Minster views and takeaway kiosk set to open soon
The new York Minster Refectory restaurant is set to open in early spring.
Work is progressing quickly on the transformation of the former Minster School, after developers ‘threw everything at’ the project.
It was previously not set to open until the second quarter of 2023.
The brasserie-style Refectory in the Grade II listed building, dating from the 1830s, will have a unique view of York Minster.
The front entrance will include a takeaway kiosk offering drinks, cakes and snacks during the day. It can then be closed off at night for restaurant dining.
The main ground floor area, where Minster School pupils and staff once ate their meals, will become a dining hall with an open bar and more than 60 covers at the tables.
The upper floor, which was the school’s old science labs, IT suite & geography room, will accommodate accessible WCs.
A lounge-type hub and meeting area, with mixed seating and tables, is being created on the first floor. It was once the school’s old science labs, IT suite and geography room.
Once converted, there will also be spaces for private dining and smaller functions, such as weddings.
The interior is being designed by Pickering-based Rachel McLane Ltd.
All materials used “will be sympathetic with the Minster” – including medium to dark oak wood and antique brushed brass.
Period windows will be given a new focus, including a new raised dining area on one side of the ground floor where the windows are currently hidden within the previous boys toilets.
“Taking out the old toilets and raising the floor will allow diners to sit and look out to the Minster,” said Rachel. “The view will be incredible.”
A new lightweight custom-designed bar on the other side of the ground floor will create another distinctive view of the Minster.
GEM Construction’s chairman Mike Green, joint director and partner in the new venture with The Star Group’s director Andrew Pern, said: “We’ve thrown pretty much everything we’ve got at it since before Christmas and we are now on target to open much earlier than expected, hopefully early spring.
“We’ve had upwards of 25 building and trades contractors on site throughout the Christmas and new year period and have really put the pedal to the floor to get this done and open for spring.
“That doesn’t mean cutting any corners as everyone on the project is committed to making York Minster Refectory restaurant building respect its history and create a new restaurant that fits.
“The building has such heritage and integrity, so we don’t want to lose that, and most definitely don’t want to include things that don’t work.”
The stone floor of the front entrance has now been lowered and is being relaid to make it level access throughout.
He said bringing the empty school back to life has been a significant challenge, “but one we can’t wait to get finished as it will realise the dream of a truly fantastic new restaurant and Minster Park in the heart of York”.
Restaurateur and Michelin starred chef Andrew Pern said: “The new kitchens on the ground floor – food prep, cooking and pot wash areas – are starting to take shape and have come together much more rapidly than even we had hoped for.
“Our executive head chef of the Star Inn the City Joshua Brimmell will also now oversee the development of the menu and all food and hospitality functions at the York Minster Refectory.
“This will be an accessible-to-all brasserie-style restaurant cafe that includes a daytime takeaway element, daytime and evening dining along with a mixture of smaller function, lounge and private dining rooms.
“We expect to reveal more details of the menus in the coming weeks and when we will be able to take bookings.”