JAPANESE cuisine specialist YO! Sushi is opening a restaurant in the heart of York city centre.

The finishing touches are currently being put to the new two-story 3,000 sq ft restaurant, which is in the former Ponden Mill shop in Church Street, ready for the grand opening on Thursday at noon.

The new restaurant has been designed by Philip Watts, who said: “It’s a beautiful building in a conservation area packed with great restaurants so we wanted to design something that felt peaceful, modern and minimal and to use materials that were in influenced by the existing building.

“Then we added a few YO! Sushi touches to give the restaurant a new and fresh feel that gently nods to our original urban Tokyo inspiration.”

When open it will offer a range of more than 90 hot and cold Japanese inspired dishes with everything from soups to Yakisoba noodles and Katsu curries along with some of the company’s signature sushi and sashimi dishes.

Instead of the conventional restaurant layout, patrons are encouraged to choose a seat next to a conveyor belt, take a dish, eat and pay.

Laura McMahon, the new assistant manager, has lived in York since she was six.

She said: “York has always been a great place for restaurants and I’m delighted to be involved in bringing YO! Sushi’s fantastic range of Japanese inspired food to the city I grew up in.”

In December last year another national chain restaurant, Wagamama, opened a branch in nearby Goodramgate in the former JJB Sports shop creating employment for a team of 47 people in the building which had been empty since 2008.

Following Thursday’s grand opening opening times at YO! Sushi will be Friday and Saturday noon to 11pm and Sunday to Thursday noon to 10pm.