A RESTAURANT in the heart of York, which comes with its own ghost, is almost ready to reopen.

It's taken two long years and lots of hard work, but the duo behind La Piazza Antica in Goodramgate are hoping to have their Italian restaurant open in the next week or so.

Work is still ongoing, but Decio Franca and Arjan Boci say it will to be a classic Italian menu with some twists.

The business will employ between 15 and 20 people with a maximum of 110 covers and open from noon-10pm seven days a week.

York Press: La Piazza from the outside as it used to lookLa Piazza from the outside as it used to look

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Decio said: "Given its history we didn't want to change much about the building, but we have a completely new kitchen and there is a brand new bar at the rear of the restaurant - in terms of the equipment it's all brand new.

"It's been a long road - when we took it on we thought it would just be a case of bringing it up to regulations, but there has been a lot to do, and we're now almost there.

"We also haven't had the pleasure of meeting the ghost just yet!

"We have had a lot of customers coming and stopping for a chat asking when we will be back open and we can't wait to welcome them."

Arjan worked for Decio for ten years at one of Decio's other York businesses, La Vecchia Scuola at 62 Low Petergate, and says the old La Piazza restaurant has a personal connection for him as it's where he met his wife, Anna, when he worked there for a brief time alongside her.

As The Press reported at the time, back in 2020, the leasehold of the Grade I listed building went on the market then at an asking price of £150,000.

And at that time the business had been owned and operated for 25 years by Emilio Comito and his family who were selling in order to enjoy their retirement. 

The late-medieval half-timbered building dates back to the late 15th or early 16th century.

It is owned by York Conservation Trust due to its age and history, which includes an intriguing tale of Yorkshire’s saddest ghost, Marmaduke Buckle, who lived in the property between 1697 and 1715.

Marmaduke was disabled, and after being accused of witchcraft, carved his name into the wall and the beam, and then hung himself from it. The carvings are still visible to this day and provide a unique talking point.

Inside the restaurant great oak timbers reach up to a dizzy height in the main dining room which is currently being fitted out.

There is also another seating area upstairs, reached by a twisty timber staircase. Like the dining hall, it is full of old timber beams, and there is a deep-set window with what was possibly once a window seat looking out over Goodramgate.

Outside there is a sunny courtyard at the back of the property and Decio and Arjan hope to open that to customers in due course.

York Press: The courtyard at La PiazzaThe courtyard at La Piazza (Image: UGC)