One of York’s best-known restaurants is to close

They blazed a trail in York – but now the people behind York’s best known vegan restaurant are closing up and moving on.

El Piano has been serving vegan and vegetarian food to residents for 21 years.


Since opening in 1997, the Grape Lane establishment has won and been nominated for numerous awards – it was named café of the year in the York Tourism Awards last year.

One of the first places to serve up vegan food in York, El Piano has continued to be a foodie pioneer. Last month it became the first restaurant in the world to gain the international palm oil free accreditation.

‘Our job is done’

The El Piano team, L-R: standing – Magdalena Chávez, founder; Daisy Hilton; Patrick Barnes; Ben Worth; David Fox; Bob Jackson; Dan Sweeney. Seated – Elaina Smith; Elena Jackson; Alice Whiteley; Thushi Perera; Sue Wilkes, customer; Jenna Wallop; Katy Watson; Jonathan Fry
Founded by Magdalena Chavez it has remained a family affair, the restaurant offered plant-based, gluten-free food using organic and local ingredients long before it was popular.

Magdalena said:

We are moving on. Our job is done. Twenty one years of blazing the vegan and gluten-free trail has led us all to the happy point where almost all eateries in York are now offering vegan and gluten-free options.

Add to this the fact that last month El Piano became the first restaurant in the world to gain the international palm oil free accreditation, it seems a good moment to hang up our aprons.

New restaurant moving in

Pioneering… El Piano. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Although El Piano is going, the premises will stay as a restaurant.

“One of York’s most vibrant chefs will soon pick up where we left off; serving colourful food from around the world,” said Magdalena.

“Watch this space… We know you’ll be as excited as we are about what’s to come.”

El Piano’s last day of cooking will be Thursday, August 30. She said:

It has been our absolute pleasure to serve you all these years and we thank you for your loyalty and support.

You will still be able to find us and our products, recipes, videos and books on our website.