When Aaron Abajian got into the bar and restaurant business almost eight years ago, he didn’t have much experience and relied heavily on his father-in-law to help him keep the place open. Shortly after taking ownership of Horan’s Snug on Madison Street though, Abajian’s father-in-law died.
Enter Aeneas Horan, the original proprietor of Horan’s Snug. Though he no longer had a financial interest in the business and was on his way to retirement, Abajian said Horan came in and saved the day.
“When my father-in-law passed away, he would come in and help us,” Abajian said.
And so it goes with dozens of other stories about Horan, the Irish immigrant with a generous spirit and hearty character. Horan died on April 23 at his home in Fort Myers, Fla., but friends and former co-workers said Aene, as he’s affectionately known, will live on in their memories and their stories.
“He’s not going away,” longtime friend and fellow Irishman Jim Donoghue said.
Donoghue and Horan knew each other for some 25 years after meeting in Forest Park. Horan lived in nearby River Forest with his first wife and kids while he ran a series of taverns in the area. Prior to opening the Snug in 1979, Horan owned The Elgin Tap and Pat’s Pub, also in Forest Park.
In the 1970s, he opened two more watering holes in the city, according to a Chicago Sun-Times obituary. He would later move to Forest Park, just a short walk from the bar, before eventually retiring to Florida.
On a recent afternoon at the Snug, patrons and employees shared their memories of Horan, ribbing one another and their departed friend. Generous, funny, earnest and hardworking were words they all used to describe him.
“He was a good liar too,” said one man of Horan’s storytelling.
For about a decade, Bob Nagel tended bar for Horan and said his former boss was the nicest man he had ever worked for. Horan understood the tavern was a business, but to create an atmosphere where people felt comfortable you had to be generous, Nagel said.
“He owned this bar longer than any others, by far,” Nagel said. “This was his baby.”
In addition to his three children and his first wife, Alyce Sheehan, Horan is survived by his wife Mary Jane and his stepchildren.