by John Baron
A Leeds United fan and pet shop owner is transforming his business into a Marcelo Bielsa-themed ‘pet cafe’.
Arron Lambert has run Pet Lodge Superstore in Oldfield Lane for over 20 years, but is aiming to transform the shop into a pet friendly cafe where people can bring their four-legged friends and enjoy coffee and cake, with pets enjoying a ‘puppacino’ or dog ice cream or two.
Football-mad Mr Lambert is proud that the world-famous Bielsa the Redeemer mural, which remembers former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, is based on the side of his business.
He is refurbishing the inside of the cafe in Argentina team colours to mark Bielsa’s birthplace and will even serve Bielsa’s favourite drink Mate Tea, which has been shipped in especially from South America.
The mural was designed and created by Farsley artist Nicolas Dixon, assisted by Andy McVeigh (also known as Burley Banksy). Since then people have been flocking from all over the world to see the mural and Mr Lambert is looking to get another Leeds United mural painted inside the cafe.
“We were looking to evolve the business and thought what better idea than to combine the appeal of the Bielsa mural and keep the pet element going through a cafe,” Mr Lambert told WLD. “Lots come to see it on a match day.
“The mural draws Leeds fans from all over. Last game of the season we had a student from Australia, who was studying in Norway, come over to have his photo take with the mural. We’re also planning more Bielsa-themed artwork inside.”
The cafe will welcome all kinds of pets into its premises and there have already been enquiries about pet birthday parties and themed get-togethers involving Bearded Dragons.
Mr Lambert, who is also one of the campaigners fighting to save the TV Harrison sports ground close to his business from having houses built on it, says the cafe will be will be called Lil and Flo’s Pet Cafe. The name comes from his two daughters, Liliana, 12, and seven-year-old Florence.
“This is a family business and it involved all of us,” he said. “The girls started off with the idea of having a pick n mix section for pets and things gradually evolved into a pet cafe.”
He will also keep some pet supplies at the side of the cafe, but says most people now attend his other shop in Tong Road, Armley.
Mr Lambert, who will apply for an outdoor licence to serve food and drinks outside and has already installed a new kitchen and toilet in the shop, is aiming to open the doors to the new cafe on Saturday, 24 June.
He’s hoping for an official opening ceremony later in the summer.
Bielsa the Redeemer Mural – a brief history
Life-long Leeds fan Nicolas Dixon created a tribute dedicated to Marcelo Bielsa, named “Bielsa the Redeemer” in Wortley, supported by Andy McVeigh. The pair were commissioned by Arron Lambert, owner of the Pet Lodge Superstore on Oldfield Lane, writes.
The mural in the typical Leeds United colours, white, blue and yellow presents Bielsa in the style of Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.
The piece itself took one week to paint and the words ‘Marchando Juntos dos mil Veinte’ surround the outline of Bielsa, meaning “Marching On Together 2020” in Spanish.
The project was in aid of the football manager and all of his hard work, to honour and respect his efforts for turning Leeds United around. Many said that he truly changed the team.
Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera is an Argentine professional football manager who is the current manager of the Uruguay national team. He is considered by some to be among the most influential football coaches of all time.
Other Leeds United-themed murals in West Leeds include Vinnie Jones at Whingate Junction in Armley, Gary Speed at Railsford Mount in Bramley, and legends Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer in Pudsey Market Place.
A tour of all the murals across the city can be undertaken, with the map route available here.