The new York Minster Refectory restaurant is now set to open in early spring with the partners on the multi-million pound construction project working 24/7 since before Christmas.
The new brasserie style York Minster Refectory is in the Grade 2 listed former York Minster school, which closed in 2020, the main building of which was built in the 1830s and commands unique views of York 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.
"We have been developing the concepts and the building designs for the last two years, which was a major challenge during Covid for everyone involved. Bringing the building back to life again is a significantly bigger 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."
The front entrance of the York Minster Refectory now taking shape will have a takeaway kiosk which will have a simple, easy-to-use flexible design offering takeaway drinks, cakes and snacks during the day, which can be closed off at night for restaurant dining. The existing stone floor of the front entrance has now been lowered and is being relaid to make it level access throughout.
The main ground floor of the restaurant is the space in which school pupils and staff ate their meals and hosted school concerts; this single open refectory hall dining-room will have an open bar and waiting tables with more than 60 covers.
The upper floor, which was the school's old science labs, IT suite & geography room, will accommodate accessible WCs with lift and be a more open plan, lounge-type hub and meeting area, with mixed seating and tables, but also spaces for private dining and smaller functions, such as weddings.
The historical and cultural integrity of the new restaurant can be seen throughout the project designs by Pickering-based Rachel McLane Ltd, the multi-award-winning interiors company.
All materials used will be sympathetic and in tune with the Minster including wood that is medium to dark oak, antique brushed brass, and furniture that marries a style that is relaxed and eclectically functional.
The building's 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 W/Cs.
"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 a distinctive, stylish view through another set of period windows out to the Minster.