You may have noticed that over the last few years Britain has developed a crazy taste for American-style meat. Leeds in particular has been increasingly invaded by UK joints and US imports serving beef brisket, pulled pork, bbq ribs and giant burgers to salivating mouths and growing bellies.
At the forefront of this trend was an innovative Leeds original with a unique twist and an exceptional quality that saw it become and remain a city favourite: Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs.
Primo’s set up shop in Leeds’ Corn Exchange at a time when the stunning heritage building was in a slump. In the five years since opening they have been joined by like-minded independents that are rekindling the buzzy atmosphere of when the Corn Exchange was the go-to counter-culture hang-out. With their kick-ass food and laid-back vibe, Primo’s must take some of the credit for kickstarting the rejuvenation, where empty units are now filled and a community spirit returns.
Similarly, as they are now surrounded in the city by many burger bars, at the start Primo’s were out on their own. Founder Nick Julian explains; “There were hotdog shops across America but none in the UK, which seemed crazy. We were the first of its nature here, including London.”
Primo’s unique selling point has always been the focus on high quality hotdogs, and so I ask Nick what it is that elevates them; “It’s at source and recipe. Our sausages are butchered specially for Primo’s and the bread is baked fresh locally,” he says. This can be sampled with a super-value ‘Naked Dog’ or added to with a range of generous ‘Classic Dogs’ or ‘Super Dogs’ that incorporate a variety of awesome sauces, spices and toppings to satisfy all tastes.
The menu has recently developed to offer both more focus and more choice. Nick tells me how the change came about; “Twelve months ago we had a revolution. With more casual-dining places opening we needed to raise our game, which we have.” The new, improved listings now include burgers, US sandwiches, deserts, sides, shakes and smoothies, all in keeping with Primo’s ethos by making in-house and respecting tradition whilst maximising flavour.
Primo’s stand proud as a Leeds brand and it is fitting that First Direct Arena chose them as their local hotdog partner. From Bruce Springsteen to Josh Warrington, it has been Primo’s dogs that fans have been chowing down on site with considerable pleasure and glowing feedback.
The initial success of Primo’s in the Corn Exchange allowed them to branch out to other shopping centres by opening outlets in White Rose and Xscape, but the brand remains fiercely independent and continues to fight for its market amidst giant competition. Leeds would do well to support it. As the local and the original, Primo’s might still be the best taste of America in Leeds.