'I blow Kalvin Phillips a kiss every night' says Aire Bar Leeds owner as England set to play Ukraine in Euros quarter finals

Aire Bar in Leeds city centre sits conveniently opposite one of the city's landmarks - The Calls' huge Kalvin Phillips mural.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 4:45 pm
Kalvin Phillips mural, The Calls, Leeds
Kalvin Phillips mural, The Calls, Leeds

And as bar owner Chris Howard leaves his neighbouring business every night, he says he blows the Leeds United player a kiss.

Aire Bar is a popular one with Leeds fans, and is part of Leeds United's fabric with artwork related to the football team up around the venue.

The bar sports more than eight screens to show the Euros on - and it is therefore no surprise that it has been so "massively busy" throughout the tournament's duration so far.

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England fans watch the game against Croatia at Aire Bar in Leeds

It is currently operating on a first come, first serve basis - and has an "amazing, community atmosphere" during every game.

Chris told the YEP: "We've got Kalvin Phillips' mural opposite the bar which is amazing.

"Every time I walk out of what is my business premises and my livelihood I see the guy painted on the wall next to me.

"I literally blow a kiss to him every night.

"We've been so oversubscribed and massively busy throughout the tournament and it's just given us that amazing, community atmosphere.

"I can't even think about Kalvin in the England v Ukraine game because it's just an absolute game changer and I can't even put into words what it's like to have that guy there."

Chris said he is "super proud" of the Leeds representation within the Euros tournament, and that he believes England will go all the way.

He added: "They can absolutely go all the way.

"I can't think about what I'll do and what it'll be like for the bar if they do win because it will be absolutely unreal.

"It's immense to be the owner of a venue that is something to Leeds United fans and it makes us feel so humble.

"We feel so proud that people want to come here and experience all these things with us and all these events with us."

And although customers and staff aren't "throwing pints" like they would be with no coronavirus restrictions, Chris says there is still a "massive buzz" with every game.

He added: "Normally it would be crazy, busy, silly and we'd be throwing pints up in the air.

"Now instead it's more tables chatting with other tables which they wouldn't normally do because they're forced to sit down, but it's nice that people still speak to the people next to them.

"It's like a real community and it's brilliant."

It hasn't been all fun and games for Chris, however, after a difficult 18 months as a business owner throughout the pandemic.

For Aire Bar, England's Euros success so far and the Leeds United link has been crucial.

Chris said: "There's been a mental health situation and so much going on and businesses really needing to survive over the past year and a half.

"Hand on heart, we have just about survived.

"Now, this is a really good boost to say right, we've got through it and something good is going to happen.

"If England do win? Then, wow."