A chain of ice cream parlours has opened its much-anticipated branch in Batley – and incorporated a prayer room for the benefit of its Muslim customers.

Icestone Gelato, which already has a store in John William Street, Huddersfield , has invested a six-figure sum in the new branch, which occupies the former Barclays Bank branch in Commercial Street.

Operations director Paul Morris said: “We started work towards the end of last year ripping out the bank interior. After Christmas, it has been about designing and fitting out the store.

“We have a back counter which is very similar to the layout in the Huddersfield store while the seating area follows on from the store we opened in Liverpool last year. We have also adapted a room to make a prayer room at the back of the store.”

Mr Morris said he was recruiting up to 20 staff to work in the 80-seater restaurant.

Icestone Gelato already operates two ice cream parlours in Bradford as well as ones in Huddersfield, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Manchester. It also has five delivery outlets in Huddersfield, Bradford, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Oldham. A delivery service will also operate from the Batley store.

Mr Morris said several more stores were in development, including ones in Chester, Newcastle, Leicester and Nottingham.

Commenting on the decision to open in Batley, he said: “We have a massive following in our Bradford and Huddersfield stores of people from Dewsbury and Batley.

“Half of the customers who came into the store at the opening were people I recognised from our Bradford store – and they recognised me. Batley is also quite a hub for eateries.”

Icestone Gelato opens its latest ice cream parlour on Commercial Street, Batley. Operations manager Paul Morris in front of the extensive selection of Gelatos.

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Mr Morris said the outlets had been quieter than normal last week during the severe winter weather, but said: “We still had good footfall. Over 52 weeks of the year, it is a busy restaurant chain.”

He said customers who found weather too cold for gelato had opted for the chain’s range of hot puddings instead.

Mr Morris said the chain’s success was down to its products, ambience and customer service.

“Th products, I think, are second to none,” he said. “We make our own gelato and we are always at the forefront of change. A lot of research goes into everything we product and a lot of the ingredients our waffles, cookie doughs and crepes are unique to us. Our stores also have a very vibrant atmosphere.”