A traditional Italian restaurant has recently been unveiled in Yarm following a four month renovation project.
Cena has been launched by business partners Jonathan Hall, Marcus Bennett, Adrian Rummel and Peter Huggins, who have all worked together on previous ventures. Jonathan and Marcus’ other ventures have won awards including GastroPub Chef of the Year and the Michelin Bib Gourmand, and feature in the Michelin and Good Food Guides.
Jonathan Hall said that the business associates were eager to create a unique offering and asked their customer base, via social media, what kind of restaurant they would prefer. The overwhelming response was Italian, especially pizzas, which the team used to offer at their previous restaurant chain, Hide. Despite there being two Italians on the high street in Yarm already, Cena offers a more traditional Italian experience providing guests with authentic Italian products at every turn and invested in a wood stone oven for the pizzas and make all the pasta fresh, and by hand, every day.
Works began on site at the beginning of February this year to transform the venue, which was previously a restaurant, into what it is today. The on site team have converted what was previously storage space on the first floor into an elegant upstairs dining space with room for 28 covers. The first floor dining space offers lovely views overlooking the trendy and bustling high street of Yarm.
An open kitchen has been installed on the venue’s ground floor where the bespoke oven is the main feature. Main contractors Infinity Construction, led by Kev Crook, worked alongside Carl Ross from architects Naru and Ross to turn the space into a traditional Italian eatery. Jonathan Hall oversaw the works, acting as the project manager throughout.
Infinity Construction carried out all of the joinery and plaster works at Cena and project manager Jonathan hired a trusted electrical contractor and building tradesman to carry out the remainder of the work. Jonathan added:
“We have two other venues within 10 miles; Muse a Michelin recognised continental cafe in Yarm and The Bay Horse, a Michelin awarded gastro pub in Hurworth. Cena is the newest venue and, as always, we worked with teams we are comfortable with and have worked with previously. During the Cena project we employed the same companies as we have previously which ensured we had a great team around us.”
Upon entering Cena guests are greeted by an impressive bar area complete with a dramatic, high ceiling and bar front fitted with distressed mirrors. The bar has also been finished with a blue, silver, turquoise and gold wash as well as featuring industrially designed light fittings.
After enjoying a delicious cocktail at the bar area guests are led into the downstairs dining space which holds 28 diners. The space has low ceilings and so to avoid the area becoming dark and badly lit spot lights have been fitted throughout, on both the walls and ceilings. The open kitchen is also situated on the ground floor and has a wood burning oven, complete with a pizza preparation area allowing diners to see their pizzas being made and cooked whilst they relax at their table.
Centrally located on the ground floor an impressive glass and stainless steel staircase has been erected leading guests to the first floor space. The building is partially listed and so the design team decided to leave the buildings original structure intact; as a result impressive distressed rough beams and ceilings are on show.
Large pendant lights also adorn the upstairs dining space which has been fully panelled and decorated with bespoke photography. With regard to the design of Cena, Jonathan commented:
“We tried to make Cena a contemporary space, despite it being a Listed building, we wanted it to have a modern twist. The furniture follows through from downstairs and ties in with the distressed structure of the building, as does the thick table tops.”
As the property is Listed the team had to gain planning permission to change the shop front; after gaining permission the team made the doorway more central.
The £350,000 renovation project has ensured that the venue is structurally sound and design wise is exactly in line with what the Cena team wanted to achieve. The venue has had four tenants in the past couple of years and as a result was in a poor state when the Cena team acquired it. Therefore a thorough renovation and revamp was required.
“It has been great to open up a new venue, although stressful at times, we have a wonderful team around us. We have employed a new General Manager who worked in Muse for a month prior to coming to Cena, as well as having a lot of staff working in Cena that have been with us for over a year.
“The opening of the venue has gone really well; it is trading successfully already.”