THE Irish pub industry is in mourning after the death of leading Dublin publican Oliver Hughes, who has sadly passed away.
One of the co-owners of Lillies Bordello and the Porterhouse Group, the former criminal barrister passed away suddenly at his home in north Dublin yesterday after a suspected heart-attack. He was 57.
The Glasnevin native, who was a pioneer in the publican industry is survived by his wife Helen and their two children Holly (21) and son Elliott (24).
A source close to the family said that everyone was left “devastated” with the news.
“He was an inspirational figure in the industry and achieved so much during his time. Everyone is just in shock, nobody can really get their head around it,” he said.
A former chairman with the Licensed Vintner’s Association, Mr Hughes first entered the pub trade with his cousin Liam LaHarte. They co-founded the Porterhouse Group and set up their first venue in Bray in 1989 which became one of the most popular venues in Wicklow.
Ten years on, they opened up another bar in London in 1999 as the company continued to grow. This was followed by a second Dublin venue in Temple Bar in 1996 and in 1999, they opened their first venue abroad in London in Covent Garden.
They then set their sights on VIP haunt Lillies Bordello and the adjacent venue formerly known as Judge Roy Beans, which they turned into Porterhouse Central.
Mr Hughes was also one of the first publicans to pioneer craft beers and the Porterhouse Brewery now supplies all seven of its bars and exports to American.
Always looking at new opportunities, Mr Hughes recently opened the Dingle Whiskey Distillery, which was the first purposed-built distillery for whiskey in Ireland for over 200 years.
Just last month saw the group completing a refurbishment on their Glasnevin venue, turning it into the Whitworth Dining and Bar, where his daughter Holly works.