Obituary: Nightclub boss Bryan West was key to establishment of Belfast's Golden Mile
One of the leading figures in Northern Ireland's licensed trade has died at the age of 71 following a short battle with cancer.
Tributes have been paid to Bryan West, a former publican and nightclub boss, who as proprietor of Pips International on the Dublin Road was instrumental in developing what became known as Belfast's Golden Mile.
Bryan was something of a maverick in the industry - "Play hard, party harder" was his mantra for many years - and he didn't take too much notice of what others thought.
He could have a blunt sense of humour, which he deployed to great effect when cutting a hard-nosed business deal.
I recall myself how hard I worked to help with the launch of his 200-seat restaurant Opus One in University Street.
In true Bryan West style, he held a closing party of the previous restaurant Saints And Scholars attended by a 'who's who' of Belfast socialites and where he auctioned off the old memorabilia on the walls before the contractors came in to carry out the refurbishment.
I recall sitting outside the premises around six o'clock the following morning wondering how long I could cope if this was the norm.
But Bryan was a man who could go without sleep on a regular basis.
As a leading businessman, he played a big part in shaping the fabric of Belfast's nightclub scene.
He ran clubs for many decades, including the old Copeland Hotel in Donaghadee, the Bryansburn in Bangor and Dempseys in Belfast.
In its heyday Pips was the best-known nightclub in Belfast and there would be a plethora of fast cars with personalised number plates parked up outside.
Indeed, Bryan had a passion for expensive cars, including his distinctive red Ferrari and Lamborghini.
He also had his own 'POP 20' registration plate. A keen charity fundraiser, he would always offer ways to raise money for well-known causes.
Bryan loved to be at the centre of everything, but inevitably that took a toll on family and personal life.
His first wife Janet was by his side at many events as the Golden Mile started to evolve.
Together they had a son, Christopher.
With his second wife Gillian he had two sons, Spencer and Ryan, and a daughter, Nicole. Sadly, that marriage also ended.
After the lucrative sale of Pips International, he continued to build his empire.
He purchased a rundown bar in east Belfast and the refurbishment of the Belmont set the stage for the recent resurgence of nightlife in Ballyhackamore.
Propping up a barstool, sporting a crisply ironed shirt and his year-round weather-beaten tan and sipping a chilled glass of the establishment's finest wine, watching everyone arrive and enjoy themselves, was when Bryan was happiest.
He died on June 26 at Holywood Care Home.
His funeral takes place tomorrow in Roselawn Crematorium at 10am.