MEET the team behind the new York Minster Refectory Restaurant.

Award-winning chef Bex Toppin and partner Will Pearce, of Robinsons Cafe, York, will run the new restaurant on the site of the former Minster School, which City of York Council's planning committee unanimously supported last Friday.

The duo join an award-winning development team that also includes GEM Construction (York) Ltd., The Star Group of Restaurants - led by renowned chef Andrew Pern - and interior designer Rachel McLane Ltd.

Andrew Pern, The Star Group's director, is a joint director and partner in the venture, with GEM Construction's chairman Mike Green, who described it as 'an ambitious, high quality but accessible restaurant launch in an historically-sensitive refurbishment'.

It will 'benefit the people and the city of York with new jobs and a fabulous restaurant while embracing the vision of the Chapter of York, the governing body for York Minster', he said.

The Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York said they were delighted to have secured planning permission and listed building consent.

"This excellent partnership fully embraces Chapter’s vision to create a warm, welcoming refectory facility in the heart of the city.

"Re-purposing the former Minster School buildings to create a wonderful new space is fundamental to the principles of sustainability set out in the York Minster Precinct Neighbourhood Plan.

“We are also delighted to work with partners whose ethos as a community employer is aligned with York Minster’s core values for openness, inclusivity and support for disadvantaged groups, such as ex-prisoners, who are often excluded from mainstream employment opportunities.

“We are confident that the new Refectory Restaurant will operate very much in the caring spiritual, historical tradition of York Minster as a place of sanctuary and alms for feeding and watering pilgrims and the needy."

GEM Construction employs 35 full-time staff including project and professional staff, alongside Gem's sister company, Lanstone Conservation, which specialises in the maintenance, restoration and conservation of ecclesiastical, historic and ancient buildings and monuments.

"At Robinsons, Bex and Will have really made a name for themselves since they opened the cafe in 2016 and will bring good quality but very affordable dining in an accessible-to-all refectory-style restaurant cafe," added Mr Green who founded Gem Construction in 1997.

"Plans are still being finalised but we expect there will be a daytime takeaway element, and day time and evening dining; we also aim to have a mix of smaller function and private dining rooms, which are relatively rare in York."

Multi-award-winning interior designer, Rachel McLane Ltd, is looking after the interior design side, drawing on 20 years' experience across numerous hospitality projects.

Rachel, from Pickering, was a finalist in three categories at this year's Northern Design Awards, including best interior design practice.

She said: "We want the Refectory's design to be an honest, community space, unpretentious, public focused and accessible, making it look like it belongs and won't take away from the essence of the building, by doing justice to its historical importance.

"The design concepts that we have come up with really respect and enhance the old school - the main floor Refectory restaurant space will be the space in which school pupils and staff ate their meals and hosted school concerts," she said.

Andrew Pern, whose restaurants include The Star at Harome and The Star Inn the City, York, is the other main investment partner.

But Mr Green said: "Although Andrew and I have been working very closely together on this project as we have on our other Star restaurants, people can expect the Minster Refectory restaurant to be a distinctly different concept to the Star."

The team hopes the restaurant will add to York's reputation as a destination for high quality, good value restaurant and cafe dining.

"We're keen to build that up for York and the people here, not only to attract more people from Yorkshire and further afield to the city but to give local people employment and opportunities in what will be a fantastic new restaurant," added Mr Green.

The plans for the new Refectory Restaurant remain subject to final planning permission in a deal that is ‘subject to contract’, as York Minster, Gem Construction and The Star Group of Companies work to finalise contract arrangements.