AN arsonist is awaiting sentencing after setting fire to Heaven’s Kitchen restaurant in Farnham.

Police were called at 3am on Monday, March 11, following reports of a fire in the restaurant which had spread to the flats above. Fortunately there were no reported injuries, according to the police.

Giovanni Dell-Anno, 37 of no-fixed address, has pleaded guilty to eight counts including:

* Arson with intent to endanger life

* Arson with recklessness as to whether life is endangered

* Burglary non-dwelling

* Four malicious communications

* Assault by beating

Dell-Anno pleaded guilty to all counts at Staines Magistrates’ Court last Thursday.

He has been remanded in custody until he attends Guildford Crown Court on April 11 for sentencing.

Heaven’s Kitchen owner Qerim Aliaj, better known as Mario, confirmed that the restaurant – a Mediterranean steak house – remains closed.

He told the Herald that Giovanni was a hired chef through an agency and had been hired for the first time “a week before it happened”.

“Absolutely nothing” had happened before the incident, according to Mario, who thought he was a “lovely person”.

He was even looking at renting a room for Giovanni because he was “so skilled” as a chef.

When Mario found out Giovanni was responsible he was “shocked”, adding he was the “last person you’d have in mind to do that”.

Suspicions were raised though when Giovanni “didn’t show up” to a meeting on the day of the fire to discuss the new menu. Having not been late before, Mario “went to the police and said ‘this is something to check out’”.

According to Mario, stock wise there was “more than £25,000 worth of damage” and everything, including the booths, lighting and flooring, has had to be “ripped apart”.

“It’s a nightmare to be honest,” he said, adding it is “devastating”.

He said “it was very depressing” being at the restaurant and was “difficult to stay there”.

But, “everyone is working really hard”.

Mario now “feels a bit more safe” knowing Giovanni has been charged, adding “the law is working”.

“I’m not happy seeing people going to prison, but I’m happy they’re off the street,” he said.

“Another loss” for the restaurant is that Mario expects they are going to miss Mother’s Day, which this year takes place on Sunday, March 31.

They hope to reopen “as soon as possible” though, with Mario adding it would be “great if people come back”.

“It wasn’t our fault,” he added.

Heaven’s Kitchen, which opened nearly two years ago in East Street, Farnham, will be launching a new menu when they reopen, set to include new cocktails.

“Hopefully we can make it happen,” Mario said.