independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

He's the new king of Dublin's nightlife but he won't be seen out on the town

Patrick McKillen is following in his father's footsteps in more ways than one, says Niamh Horan

Patrick McKillen Jnr, the ambitious son of high-profile developer Paddy McKillen, is fast becoming the new king of Dublin's nightlife.

The former St Michael's College student and UCD rugby player has opened 10 eateries and night spots in the past two years.

You wouldn't recognise him if you passed him on the street, but the likelihood is you've graced one of his businesses if you've socialised in Dublin.

At only 30 years of age he has already snapped up many of the hottest spots on Dublin's social scene – employing 630 staff.

And he's only getting started.

As ferociously guarded about his private life as his developer father – he is also said to be every bit as tenacious in business.

Business associates say he has set his sights on expanding his already impressive empire in 2013.

In the past 12 months he has opened Wagamama restaurants in Dundrum and Belfast, Wilde Venue (to be renamed in the coming weeks) on Wicklow Street, Everleigh Gardens on Harcourt Street, the Bison Bar on Wellington Quay and Temple Bar's ultra trendy Vintage Cocktail Club. In the past 26 months he has taken over The Kitchen nightclub and The Garage Bar on Essex Street, opened The Workman's Club on Wellington Quay and Wagamama and Captain Americas restaurants in Blanchardstown.

Tower Records on Wicklow Street, in which he has recently added a cafe, is also on his books.

Dave Fitzpatrick, creative director at Dave Fitz Design, who worked with McKillen on a number of projects, describes what continues to drive the up-and-coming entrepreneur's unquenchable thirst for expansion.

"A lot of people in his position would have sat back and maybe start up a business and do a haphazard job at it because they are comfortable enough as it is, but not Patrick. He puts 150 per cent into every idea and pushes it until he sees whether it's working or not and if it is – then he goes full throttle.

"I'm sure he inherited a lot of his business instinct from his dad but now he's become successful in his own right."

Describing the driving force behind the businessman, Fitzpatrick said: "He's definitely not money oriented – for him it's more about making his ideas a success."

Not the typical workaholic, McKillen "enjoys himself and strikes a good balance between business and social life but he never ever lets it affect his performance. Where other guys would be all about the party he'd still be up early to work the next morning."

Describing his innovative streak, Fitzpatrick said: "Paddy came to me after buying a bus in San Diego, which I think may have been brought over from Mexico. They have a rule there where a school bus can only be used for a few short years before it's taken off the road. So he saw an opportunity to buy one for next to nothing and decided to bring it home and do it up as part of a business idea. He drove it all the way back and there's a funny story about how he had to do the last stretch in first gear. He eventually came up with the idea to decorate it with some graffiti art, kit it out inside with a small bar and grill and use it for events."

Although his family's base is in Los Angeles, McKillen Jnr lives between London and Dublin, from where he operates his business. He announced his engagement to his long-time love before Christmas and plans to have tied the knot by 2014.

This April will see the opening of Dean's on Harcourt Street – a four-star boutique hotel in the same vein as the Dylan Hotel off Baggot Street. The opening will see another 45 people added to his payroll.

He has taken on Krystle's former manager, Conor Buckley, as a management consultant across a number of his businesses – and he had a hands-on role in the development of Everleigh nightclub over Christmas which, although has an all-inclusive policy where "everyone is treated as a VIP", has already entertained the likes of the Leinster rugby team and Hollywood A-lister Colin Farrell.

The ambitious pair will focus this year on taking on the might of the other two Harcourt Street giants, Krystle and Copper Face Jacks, where a lucrative trade saw the company which operates the latter recording another bumper year, turning in an after-tax profit of more than €5.6m for the 12 months ending in January 2012.

Despite the fact that he is fast making a name for himself in business circles, McKillen Jnr is intent on keeping himself as low key as possible.

As Fitzpatrick explains: "You wouldn't see him out at events or launches; he'll do his own thing and hang out at friends' parties. He's not the kind who likes centre stage."

In the internet age with its explosion of social networking sites, it is a feat that the Dublin man has managed to keep all traces of his name offline.

His father, the ultra low-profile developer, managed to keep his picture out of the papers for well over a decade.

Publishers were forced to use the same outdated photograph from 2005, only the second ever taken, until he eventually had to face the full glare of the limelight for his mammoth battle against the Barclay brothers and Dublin financier Derek Quinlan.

Similarly no pictures or details of his personal or business life exist online.

Like father like son, in more ways than one.

Sunday Independent

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