If you didn’t know any better, you’d assume this was a construction team, keen to get to the end of the job ready for the owners to make the most of the Easter tourism trade. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong.

The Prohibition Bar (opening over Easter weekend) is unlike any other bistro bar in Portugal. This is a private enterprise with a difference – an LDA where over 70 shareholders of different nationalities from the local and expat communities have committed together to investing in and reviving a bar to serve residents and tourists alike.

Nestled beside the impressive 16th-century viaduct in Óbidos, the bar, which has been completely transformed by local tradesmen and volunteers, is built around the theme of a 1920s speak-easy. Director Richard Allen explains “In the early days after the Covid-19 lockdowns, we likened the previous few months to the prohibition era (the period in the United States where the sale of alcohol had been banned leading to the rise of bootlegging and illegal drinking spots) and so amongst a small group of friends the idea of creating a 1920’s themed speak-easy bar here captured our imaginations….”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Beccy Haywood; Work started on the bar renovation in early February.

When the opportunity arose to take on a premises that was being vacated Richard and co-director Simon Pilkington decided to bring the dream to life. Simon adds “we thought this was the time to try to co-create a venture with like-minded individuals in a historic building that had never reached its full potential. We put out a prospectus on the vision we had, and were overwhelmed by the response…. Whilst there are obviously plenty of community association bars, we believe that we are completely unique with this set-up here in Portugal”.

Author: Beccy Haywood; An all weather stage is the centre piece of the garden renovation.

In 2023, Richard teamed up with Joe Mac and together they founded the non-profit organisation Communities Unite. The idea was to bring the Portuguese and expat population together through live music events held at a nearby village. “Communities Unite showed us that there is a huge appetite to create a high quality, family-friendly live music and sports venue on the Silver Coast that is affordable for everybody”.

The Prohibition Bar, which opens over Easter weekend, will be staffed by a Portuguese hospitality management team, serving local craft ales, and a full restaurant menu. The outside area features a new all-weather stage and a kid's play area which has been laid with synthetic grass to create a clean, family-friendly space to spend the summer watching live music.


by Beccy Haywood