Landlord Percy Hussey was left devastated when thieves broke into his beloved pub and stole money he had made.
Now he’s determined to get things back on track at The Florist, in Fratton, Portsmouth.
As previously reported in The News, the suspects got through the back door of the pub some time between noon on Sunday, May 12, and 10.30am the next day.
They took £180 from the till, smashed up the pool table and attempted to break into the fruit machine before fleeing.
But despite the major setback, which resulted in Percy closing the pub for a week, he’s convinced the bad times are behind him.
Percy, 57, took over in April and at the time the place had been closed since Christmas.
He refurbished the place and hoped a fresh coat of paint would bring in more customers.
‘I was gutted about what happened because it’s meant I’ve had to start again,’ he said.
It was a setback I really didn’t need.
‘I felt deflated.
‘Now it’s all about getting the customers back and letting everyone know we’re still here.
‘I’m feeling optimistic and hope things will stay positive from now on.
‘You just have to look forward and carry on.’
The Florist sells one real ale called Flying Scotsman, and there are plans to introduce more.
Percy said: ‘I’ve got room for three more ales so I’m hoping to get some more in.
‘It’s just about listening to your clientele and knowing what they want.
‘When I first arrived the place had been neglected so I gave it a bit of a lift.
‘Now people come by and say it looks and feels different inside and that the changes are a good thing.’
Live music is held every Friday evening and this week a duo called Spirit will perform.
And Percy hopes to do things for charity and hold community events in the future.
‘I want to bring a great atmosphere back in this pub,’ he said.
‘We’ve got to make do with what we’ve got. We haven’t got the proper facilities to do food so we only offer bar snacks.
‘This time next year things will be a different story.
‘I’ll be able to look back and say that we got through the difficult times.’
The Florist is steeped in history.
It was built in 1924 by Portsmouth architect Arthur Cogswell for The Brickwoods Brewery, which was then based in Portsea, Portsmouth.
Percy said: ‘People are fascinated with the way the building looks. It’s a selling point.’
HARD-WORKING landlord Percy Hussey has worked in the pub trade for 11 years.
He started his career at The Graham Arms, in George Street, Buckland, Portsmouth, in 2003.
He stayed there for three years before opening his own off licence in Drayton.
But things didn’t work out so he went back into the pub industry and became the manager of The Old House at Home, in Locksway Road, Milton.
He then joined The Mermaid, in New Road, Buckland, and was working on the day when a car crashed through the wall of the pub.
The incident happened in May two years ago.
At the time Percy said it felt ‘like a bomb going off.’
‘It was all pretty dramatic he said.
‘It’s certainly a moment that will stay with me.’
Percy said he’s now content with life at The Florist and doesn’t have any intention of leaving anytime soon.
He grew up in South Africa and has been in Portsmouth since the 1970s.
He currently lives in North End.
‘The opportunity came up to take over The Florist and I took it,’ he said.
‘I am my own boss and I like the fact I can make my own decisions.
‘I’m enjoying the challenge of turning a pub which had been closed for months into a thriving place.
‘I’ve got experience of doing things like that.
‘When I took over The Mermaid it had been closed for a while.
‘As long as you keep that positive outlook in mind then that’s the main thing.’