It was a pub struggling to attract customers off the street.
Now Nelsons Bar, in Gosport’s High Street, has been given a new lease of life thanks to a major £200,000 investment.
Naval memorabilia which was in storage has been put back up in celebration of the town’s links with the armed forces.
The bar, which was previously at the back of the premises, has now been brought nearer the front to make it more inviting.
Large seating booths have also been brought in to accommodate punters who are in the mood for having a bit of a party.
A new kitchen and toilets have been fitted and it’s good news for the local economy – because 12 extra jobs have been created.
The upstairs nightclub, called Emmas, is part of the business and has also been given a makeover.
Landlord Arthur Caraccio, 46, put £50,000 towards the refurbishment and Punch Taverns, the pub’s owners, covered the rest.
As previously reported, the pub re-opened on Friday following the work, and a VIP event was held the night before.
Arthur, who has been in charge of the pumps for six years, said: ‘I’m delighted and really pleased with it.
‘Just listening to the customers over the past few days, I know I have made the right decision in terms of the layout and feel of the pub.
‘I always felt that when the bar was at the back of the pub, it looked empty.
‘Now when people walk past, they’ll see there’s quite a few others in here.’
The building dates back to 1805 and was originally The Star Hotel.
It’s current name is in homage to Lord Horatio Nelson, who died during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
A picture of the naval hero is on the pub’s sign outside.
One real ale is served, and another one could be offered in the future.
Support by the pub is given to worthy causes including Help for Heroes.
Arthur said the focus over the next year would be to drive up footfall during the day and promote his new, extensive food menu.
‘We’re still trying to find our way around the building,’ he said.
‘It’s like being in a new job.
‘Building the through trade will be our main concern now.’
Denise Shepherd, 62, who worked at the pub for 32 years, still enjoys popping by.
‘I love how it looks now,’ she said.
‘It’s great that a lot of the naval memorabilia has gone back up.
‘It’s brought that link back which had been lost.’
MEET THE LANDLORD
EXPERIENCED landlord Arthur Caraccio has been involved in pubs and nightclubs since he was 18.
Prior to running Nelsons Bar, he ran former Gosport pub The Railway Inn.
Arthur, who comes from London, worked for a leisure operator before that which ran a number of venues across the country.
It was during that time he would regularly visit a friend who owned The Anglesey Hotel, in Crescent Road, Gosport, and from there he developed a love for the town.
Arthur said: ‘It was like my weekend getaway.
‘That’s where my affection for Gosport started.
‘I like the fact that five minutes away you have got Stokes Bay and you can see the ferries and naval ships.
‘People who live in Gosport tend to slate it, but sometimes people don’t stop and look around at what they have got.
‘There are so many nice places in Gosport.’
Arthur said there were people who thought carrying out major works at the pub would be too risky, given the economic climate, but he knew it was the right move.
‘Working in the pub trade is a bit tough at the moment,’ he said. ‘But this is what the pub needed.
‘It was in the best interests of the staff who rely on it.
‘Without the help of Punch Taverns, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the majority of the work done.’
The project, which was Arthur’s idea, came to light following discussions on October 12.
Arthur also juggles his time running another Gosport pub, The Rose and Crown in Stoke Road.