RESTAURANT owner Graham Fryer is backing Batley’s renaissance by taking over premises which have been empty for 18 months.
His new Smokey’s Original barbeque joint opened on St James Street, near the bus station, on Wednesday.
In a further boost for the town, bookmakers Betfred are to take a long-vacant unit next to the O2 shop on Commercial Street.
And on Boxing Day, Aspire Bedding opens nearby in the former Boots, which closed earlier this year.
The constituency office of MP Jo Cox is now open at the junction of Commercial Street and Branch Road.
Meanwhile Graham, 41, of Soothill, has created a US-style eatery featuring a barbeque smoker imported from Oklahoma.
He said: “Batley was once a thriving mill town. To me, it’s like an old car – it just needs a kick-start.
“If people like myself and others get involved we can raise some investment and community spirit and get this place going again.”
Smokey’s Original serves ribs, burgers and steaks with meat supplied by Bluehills Farm of Birkenshaw.
All except desserts, which come from a bakery in Shipley, are home-made, with meats spiced by a ‘secret’ blend inspired by time abroad.
Former Earlsheaton High School pupil Graham lived on a kibbutz in Israel in 1998 and 1999.
Two years later he lived in Australia, then in 2004 he stayed in New Zealand and had further spells in Thailand and Malaysia.