It was a run-down pub that was in desperate need of a facelift.
Now Park Tavern, in Park Road, Gosport, has been given a new lease of life thanks to hard-working landlords Ray Clements and Liz Corp.
The couple snapped up the pub in August and closed it for two weeks while they carried out a refurbishment.
The toilets and bar were redecorated and every wall was given a fresh coat of paint.
The cost of the work was £12,000, which came out of Ray and Liz’s pockets.
And they rallied their friends to ensure the pub reopened in tip-top shape.
Now everyone’s efforts have been worth it because the pub has seen a boost in trade.
And now there are plans to add a few special extras.
This weekend a new cocktail bar will be opened and in the new year the function room will be redecorated in a vintage style so it can be used for weddings.
A new kitchen will be fitted in the near future.
Liz, 43, said: ‘This is a beautiful, three-storey Victorian building.
‘We’ve always seen the potential for this place to do well.
‘This is very much a locals’ pub.
‘We’ve had to put in an incredible amount of hard work to get to this point but it’s been worth it.
‘We’ve had to juggle running the pub, redecorating it and making it suitable for us to live in as well.’
Three times a week Liz drives to Fareham and picks up tasty pasties at Soothills Ltd bakery so she can sell them behind the bar.
‘It’s something we’ve introduced while we work on revamping the kitchen and getting a decent food menu on the go,’ she said.
‘It’s gone down well and it certainly fills a hole. We’ve got big plans.
‘We’ve introduced live music and on Friday night’s there’s an open mic session for people of all ages. We have musicians as young as 14 and as old as 80.
‘There’s a great mix. The atmosphere has picked up here.
‘You just have to believe that what you’re doing is going to work. And it seems like it has.’
Next year there also plans to hold themed nights and charity events.
Yvonne Marks, 56, has been a barmaid at the pub for 10 years.
‘The pub looks absolutely beautiful now,’ she said.
‘Liz and Ray have done a fantastic job.
‘The place is buzzing now because people from the local area have seen the changes that have been made.
‘We’re like one big happy family here.’
MEET THE LANDLORD
LANDLORD Ray Clements has had a busy life in the pub trade.
While Park Tavern is only the second pub that Liz has helped to run, Ray has run and owned boozers in Gosport for almost 25 years.
Ray, who grew up in Bridgemary, started up as the tenant of former pub The Artillery Arms in 1988.
He then bought the freehold of The Camden Arms in 1991 – a pub which went on to close nine years later – and The Robin Hood – which closed in 1992.
After buying The Civil Service Club and renaming it the RKL club he got tenants to run his two pubs.
After a while he ended up taking them back over and eventually sold them around 12 years ago.
Ray met Liz, a former manager for the Laura Ashley store, in Chichester, three years ago.
She was keen to embark on a new career and meet a new set of people.
Liz said: ‘The time felt right for me to move on. I wanted a change in scenery and direction.
‘The pub trade was something that really appealed to me.
‘I live in Gosport and was getting tired of commuting to Chichester every day.
‘Ray and I make a good team because I’ve got artistic flair and he’s great with the business side of things.
‘It’s nice to be able to work for myself.
‘If you put the time and energy into something then you can make it work.
Ray said: ‘Liz is enthusiastic about making a good career in the pub trade.
‘We both knew that taking on Park Tavern would be good for us.’