Economy

Former Smart50 winner and pub entrepreneur James Miller dies

Patrick Stafford /

Former Smart50 winner, franchise owner and entrepreneur James Miller, who has been credited with revitalising part of the pub market in Sydney, has died.

The entrepreneur started his Drink ‘n’ Dine company with business partner Jaime Wirth, with the pair responsible for running popular nightlife destinations including the Norfolk Hotel and the Carrington.

The pair recently opened their latest venture, the Santa Barbara in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

Wirth said in a statement he will remember James as an “endlessly energetic, generous and intensely loyal friend”.

”He had a fierce business drive and intelligence but also a real understanding of what was important to him – friends, family and enjoying every day. I learnt a lot from James in business, friendship and life and I will miss him greatly,” he said, according to Fairfax.

Business partner Luke Baylis also said in a statement he was “devastated” by the loss.

“While JAmes has not been involved in the business for many years, he will always be part of the SumoSalad family, and my heart goes out to his family and son at this very difficult time.” 

Reports indicate Miller, believed to be 38 years old, died of an accidental overdose.

Miller has an extensive business history. After spending some time in the United States with friend Luke Baylis, the pair opened Sumo Salad, a fresh fast-food chain which is now one of the fastest growing franchises in the country with turnover worth tens of millions of dollars.

The business most recently sold a 60% stake to the wealthy Maloney Family through the Tulla Group.

SmartCompany attempted to contact Wirth, but a reply was not avaialble. 

Miller appeared with Baylis as Smart50 winners back in 2008, and was listed as one of the most influential people in the hospitality industry by Fairfax.

Friends and colleagues have taken to Twitter to post messages about Miller, including fellow nightclub owners and hospitality figures.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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