Arts Café founder launches new Spanish restaurant in Leeds

A new Spanish restaurant, which started as a paella-at-home delivery service during lockdown, is opening in a city centre site after seeing success at its market stall.

Bomba aims to bring some Spanish sunshine to Saw Mill Yard, in the Round Foundry and Marshall’s Mill complex in Leeds’s South Bank.

It is the newest venture from Joe McDermott, who set up the original Arts Café in Leeds and Ilkley Moor Vaults in Ilkley.

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Joe McDermott, founder of Spanish restaurant Bomba in Leeds.

Occupying a 1,574 sq ft space with terrace, the informal venue allows Mr McDermott and his team of five to develop popular elements from the market menu, from the Spanish breakfasts and churros con chocolate to the popular boccadillo sandwiches and classic tapas dishes.

“We’d been looking for a venue that would allow us to move into evening service for a while and when we saw this space, in such a fantastic heritage area, we knew it was perfect for us.” Mr McDermott said.

Mr McDermott has been a regular in the Yorkshire food and drink scene since setting up and running the popular Arts Café in Leeds from 1994-1999.

After spending a few years running a crepe venue in London, he returned to his native Yorkshire to run the Ilkley Moor Vaults, building it into a neighbourhood hot spot, before heading back to Leeds city centre to focus on street food opening a crepe stall in the market.

During lockdown, McDermott started cooking and delivering paella locally. He went on to change the concept of his stall to sell the Spanish staple alongside other Spanish street food dishes.

Paul Taylor, director at Creative Space Management who oversaw the letting, said “We already have some of the best independent pubs and cafes in Leeds here and this will complement them by adding something different, in a restaurant space already well known from previous owners including Matt Healy.”