Mark Hird, managing director of hospitality businesses in the north-east of England including Tavistock Hospitality and Poetic License Distillery, has died aged 47 after a long battle with cancer.
Hird, who died on 3 December, worked in various restaurants before opening his own restaurant in 2000, 11 Tavistock Place in Sunderland, with his wife Nicola.
Over the next 19 years the couple opened and renovated more than 30 properties in the area under different brands, such as Tavistock Italia, Sonnet 43 Gastro Pubs, Tavistock Thai China, Italian Farmhouse and the Roker hotel.
Hird set up a micro-brewery in early 2015, which led to the development of S43 Brewery (formerly Sonnet 43). Poetic License Distillery was developed in 2015 and has continued to grow with major contracts in place with supermarkets and pub chains.
He was a devoted family man and leaves behind his wife and three children.
Jonathan Graham, operations director of the Tavistock Group, said: "I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of Mark, he was a true inspiration. I have a lost a best friend of 30 years and the world has lost a wonderful man."