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LGBTQ+ community mourning loss of beloved Phoenix Bunkhouse Saloon owner

Pat Olivo Bunkhouse
Posted at 11:27 AM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 20:59:41-05

PHOENIX — The LGBTQ+ community is mourning the loss of a well-loved and well-known bar owner, Pat Olivo.

Bunkhouse Saloon, located in Phoenix’s Melrose District near 7th Avenue and Indian School Road, says Olivo recently passed away.

Darren Mathis was Olivo's partner of 12 years. He said he was smart, kind and larger than life.

"He had an infectious smile...And just the way he lit up the room whenever he'd enter a room," said Mathis. "I really miss him. I'm the luckiest man in the world, I don't know why he chose me as a partner, I'm the luckiest man in the world."

He said Olivo was called the "Godfather of Melrose." He bought Pat O's Bunkhouse Saloon in the Melrose District in 2002.

"It was important to the neighborhood, and not just the gay community, but to the neighborhood that this bar was a success. And a lot of people come here from all different walks of life and whatever orientation they are," said friend Tony Bartoli.

It became a safe haven for the LGBTQ community.

"It was always important to pat to have a safe space for everybody, something comfy, something homey. It didn't need a whole bunch of fuss or fancy things, it just needed to be somewhere comfortable that people could enjoy," said Mitchell Buckley, a bartender and friend.

Before that, Olivo bartended at Apollo's and other Valley spots for years. He was loved and respected.

"People looked up to him as a standard in the community, he was an icon in the community," said Mathis.

Olivo partnered up with several charities throughout the years. Coworkers and friends said he was known for taking care of patrons, often hosting free buffets at the bar.

"He just had a big heart and he loved pleasing people. He loved helping people and he did it very generously," said Mathis.

Olivo died unexpectedly in his home Monday evening. He was 70 years old.

“Please feel free to patronize Bunkhouse and support Pat’s bar family as they learn to navigate their way without a compass, without the captain,” the bar said in a Facebook post earlier this week.

Messages of sympathy have been streaming into the bar’s social media feeds, with patrons describing Olivo as a “great person,” “a great pillar in the community,” and someone “with a heart of gold.”

Bunkhouse Saloon is holding a memorial service for Olivo on March 19 at 2 p.m.