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Crafting Community: The Story of William Oliver’s Publick House

In the heart of Lafayette, a charming and welcoming establishment stands as a testament to the power of dreams, community, and the pursuit of a life well-lived. This is the story of William Oliver’s Publick House, a pub and eatery located at 201 N Public Rd that goes beyond the ordinary, offering a unique blend of tradition, quality, and genuine connection.

The journey of William Oliver’s began with the vision of Ryan and Tiffany Wallace. The name itself, William Oliver’s, pays homage to the first pub they opened in Fort Collins, which is named after Lieutenant Colonel William Oliver Collins. The intriguing pig logo is inspired by Irish mythology surrounding Manannán mac Lir, and adds a touch of folklore to the establishment. According to legend, a pig with a deformity, such as a missing tail or misshaped hoof, is believed to bring good luck. If you look closely at William Oliver’s logo, you may notice that the pig’s ear is missing a piece—a nod to the strength and good fortune found at their pub.

A Dream Takes Shape Across the Pond

Ryan Wallace, a Colorado native, lived a life colored by diverse experiences. A childhood of living in various cities worldwide, including an extended period in Germany, planted the seeds of inspiration for what would later become a lifelong dream. His childhood observation of European pubs and Biergartens is what sparked the dream of creating a haven where people could always find joy. Little did he know that years later, after a career that spanned the US Department of Defense, the British Ministry of Defense, and NATO, he would return to Colorado to make that dream a reality.

After earning his master’s degree and settling down in Northern Colorado, Ryan found himself at a crossroads. The extra time on his hands prompted a conversation with his mentor, Denise, affectionately known as “Mama.” Encouraged to pursue the dream he and Tiffany had mapped out on a napkin years ago, the Wallaces embarked on the journey of opening their own pub.

The inspiration for William Oliver’s drew from a diverse array of experiences, from time spent in European pub culture to a chance encounter with a special pub in San Diego. During the Wallace’s time living in Southern California, they encountered a pub that sparked a reaction. Ryan remembers turning to his wife and saying, “This is it! This is the feel I want for our pub!” A hastily scrawled business plan on a napkin marked the birth of a vision that would soon become a distinctive pub experience.

Holding Traditions in a Modern Setting

Ryan differentiates William Oliver’s from modern American pubs, emphasizing its alignment with traditional pub values. In his words, “Modern American Pubs tend to lean more towards a restaurant than pub, where a [traditional] pub lies somewhere between a restaurant and a bar.” Ryan continues by explaining the innate “churn and burn” of restaurants and how he and his wife strived to create a space where people can just come and be as they are.

The focus at William Oliver’s is on being a gastro-pub that cherishes the roots of traditional pubs. Quality drinks, approachable yet delicious food, and a deliberate lack of distractions to foster an environment where dawdling is not only accepted, but encouraged. It’s a place where the concept of a “publick house” transcends mere words and becomes a tangible extension of one’s home. No expectations, no time limit, just a comfortable place where you can come as you are and relax among good company. 

#MakeThePubYours: A Community Connection

A unique campaign, #MakeThePubYours, epitomizes the community spirit that William Oliver’s aims to embody. Ryan expresses joy when regulars bring their family members to the pub, proudly declaring, “I want to show you my pub.” For him, success lies in the community feeling a sense of ownership – “When guests think [William Oliver’s] is theirs, then we are succeeding because it should be theirs! It should be their space, it should be the community’s space.”

The decision to open a second location in Old Town Lafayette was fueled by Ryan’s fond childhood memories and encouragement from his sister, who was hoping to move to Lafayette. The overwhelmingly positive response from the Lafayette community further solidified the decision. Ryan notes, “The city of Lafayette is exceptionally easy to work with as a business,” emphasizing the genuine enthusiasm the community displayed for William Oliver’s arrival. 

“I just got the sense that not just the city, but the community itself, could not wait for us to be open.”

William Oliver’s Publick House is more than just a pub; it’s a testament to the power of dreams, the importance of community, and the fulfillment that comes from creating a space where people can truly feel at home. Ryan and Tiffany Wallace’s journey, from childhood dreams to global experiences, has culminated in a place where patrons are not just customers but valued members of an extended family. As they continue to make the pub theirs, the spirit of William Oliver’s lives on, fostering connections and creating memories in the heart of Old Town Lafayette. To stay updated on all happenings and specials, you can follow William Oliver’s on socials (Instagram and Facebook), visit their website, and subscribe to their newsletter.

The amazing images featured in this blog are credited to John Robson Photography.