Bomba Leeds: Arts Cafe founder opens new Spanish restaurant after success of lockdown paella deliveries

Joe McDermott's latest venture is offering a slice of the Mediterranean in Leeds city centre.

By Abbey Maclure
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 4:45 pm

The man behind the former Arts Cafe in Call Lane, Joe has been in the restaurant business for almost three decades.

His new restaurant Bomba, founded with his wife and business partner Elizabeth, opened in Holbeck Urban Village last month - with a focus on homemade paella and traditional Spanish tapas dishes.

Joe, 51, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “My grandad lived on a boat in Spain and we used to go on holiday to see him, that’s where I remember having paella from a young age.

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Joe McDermott is the owner of Bomba in Holbeck's Saw Mill Yard, serving paella and Spanish tapas favourites (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“And I was always into food. When I was a teenager I used to like cooking omelettes, Spanish-style with vegetables in. That was my speciality.”

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After spending a few years running a crepe venue in London, Joe returned home to Leeds and set up Arts Cafe with his dad in 1994, before running Ilkley Moor Vaults pub and later opening a crepe stall in Kirkgate Market.

During the first lockdown, Joe started cooking paella and delivering it across Ilkley by bike - and orders quickly poured in.

From Spanish breakfasts to paella-for-a-crowd served piping hot in the pan, Bomba is open for eat-in, takeaway and delivery (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“That went really well during lockdown and we got good feedback," Joe said.

"It gave us the idea to convert our unit in Kirkgate Market to a Spanish stall when it reopened."

From there, Bomba was born, offering paella and traditional Spanish street food dishes.

And when a 1,574 sq ft venue opened up in Holbeck's Saw Mill Yard, Joe snapped up the chance to turn his stall into a fully-fledged restaurant.

He added: "There’s a lovely south-facing terrace onto a square, it feels like it wanted to be a Spanish place.

"Holbeck is an up-and-coming area with new offices and creative businesses and lots of people living in apartments. We thought it would be a nice area to base ourselves.”

From Spanish breakfasts, churros con chocolate and sandwiches to go, to paella-for-a-crowd served piping hot in the pan, Bomba is open for eat-in, takeaway and delivery.

There's a selection of Spanish drinks on offer, from the popular red vermouth to sangria, Spanish wine and beers.

“It’s laidback and flexible," Joe said.

"We serve all the tapas favourites that people will have enjoyed in Spain, like patatas bravas, calamari, meatballs, tortilla and prawns.

“We want it to be really relaxed and not too ‘restaurant-y’, people can come in and have a light snack and a coffee or have a full meal of tapas and paella.

“It's the sort of place that I would want to go to myself, with a nice atmosphere and a Mediterranean feel.

"To have created that, together with my team, is really satisfying."

Working with head chef Manuel Julian, Joe has built on his menu of lockdown favourites - and is excited to be part of the thriving city centre food and drink scene.

"It’s important to support local businesses if we want them to be around," he added.

"People have the option to come out again and keep the life going in the city centre and the suburbs.

"If people are coming in less days, I’m still hopeful that when they are in they will treat themselves a bit more."

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