A much-loved ice cream seller is being welcomed back to the seafront at Whitley Bay.
The Di Meo family, who run the popular, award-winning ice cream parlour in Marine Avenue, are now also setting up stall on Watts Slope.
A permanent, year-round, ice cream kiosk – painted in the historic colours used for Whitley Bay street furniture – has moved on-site ready to serve up delicious gelato, cakes, snacks and drinks and is planned to open during the Easter weekend (14-16 April).
It comes as work to reshape Watts Slope nears its conclusion with the area set to fully reopen in time for the Easter weekend too.
The work has seen the area transformed into a smart new gateway to the Northern Promenade and beach and has created a meeting area where people can sit and talk and children can play.
Paths have been installed between the Links and the promenade and the gradient has been reduced to create a gentler slope down towards the beach, improving access for wheelchair users and opening up the area to all.
The toilet block has also recently undergone a complete refurbishment with modern, clean and fresh facilities and features eye-catching, wall-mounted images of the Spanish City and St Mary’s Lighthouse.
The arrival of the new Di Meo kiosk at Watts Slope marks its return to the site following a temporary stay there in summer 2015 when it proved so popular its stay was extended by a month.
Luciano Di Meo, who runs the business, said: “Ever since I was a child I always remembered my parents dreamed of having a stall or cafe in Whitley Bay, we come from a long line of ice cream vendors and we are now in our fifth generation. With securing the kiosk on Watts Slope, my parents and my family have surpassed those dreams and we now have both.
“The kiosk is in an amazing location and an area of great natural beauty. North Tyneside Council have granted our family an opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime and we look forward to working alongside the council to deliver a first class service to visitors to the area.”
To mark the venture, Mr Di Meo has also revealed that he plans to create a new ice cream flavour which will only be available from the kiosk and will incorporate Whitley Bay in the name.
Meanwhile, improvement works along the Northern Promenade, which include new surfacing, refurbishing the steps down to the beach and installing handrails, are progressing well.
The project, which is being delivered on behalf of the council by Kier North Tyneside, forms part of the series of major regeneration works taking place along the coast at Whitley Bay as part of the £36m Seafront Master Plan, and the first phase is due for completion this summer.
Norma Redfearn, North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, said: “It really is a pleasure to welcome the Di Meo family back to Watts Slope and I’m delighted that this kiosk is going to become a permanent fixture here.
“The Di Meo name is long established in Whitley Bay and is extremely highly regarded so this is a real coup for us and is a great example of the confidence local businesses now have in what we’re trying to achieve at the seafront.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for Whitley Bay and the whole of North Tyneside as our various regeneration schemes continue to make good progress – signalling our commitment to making it a great place to live, work and visit.
“I wish Mr Di Meo all the best with his new venture and I’m confident that this new facility, along with the improvements carried out to Watts Slope alongside the wider works, will bring families flocking to the area.”
Find out more about the Seafront Master Plan at http://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/642/coastal-regeneration