The Corn Exchange in Leeds underwent a huge refurbishment a couple of years ago. The plan was to renovate the building, a Victorian trading hall and one of the most striking spaces in the North, and turn it into a massive food hall, with independent food retailers filling the units and a big ‘anchor’ restaurant in the basement.
A great idea, a little ambitious, but a good plan none the less.
Then the recession happened.
The whole building stood empty for a while until Leeds uber-chef Anthony Flinn opened in the basement area and life started to creep back into the old place.
But the Corn Exchange is huge, and not even the mighty Anthony’s can fill it.
It seems to have been a struggle to entice tenants into the building, and the purely food vision has been watered down with the reintroduction of a couple of clothes stores, but it’s good to see traders setting up and giving the space a little more buzz.
The latest tenants, Primo’s, opened earlier this month.
Primo’s sell hot dogs. Proper, nostalgic Americana-style hot dogs.
There are a couple of bagels on the menu, too, but the hot dogs are the point, and they’re delicious. Absolutely outstanding.
My hot dog was a Classic Chicago, enthusiastically introduced to me as “a connoisseurs hot dog”. High quality sausage, good bread, fresh salad and some very good dill pickle, piled high and seasoned with celery salt, mustard and a deceptively lively pickled chilli.
Finished in three bites. Well, four, but I was in polite company and had to set an example.
Primo’s have big plans. They’ve whispered in ears and nudged in the right direction and been rewarded with permission to knock out one of the windows, giving access onto the newly de-Gothed pavement outside. This is important come the summer.
The hole in the wall gives Primo’s access to a nice little area of pavement just outside the Corn Exchange, perfect for a few tables, a place to pick up a quick hot dog or sit in the sun for a few minutes.
Hot dogs are one of those things that a lot of people like, but they don’t want to admit it. Giving them the gourmet twist by improving the quality of the basic ingredients is a great approach.
The quality shows, and Primo’s deserves to be successful.