Love Your Local: The Alma Arms

BIG PLANS Steve Lant already owned The Nell Gwynne in Southsea before teaming up with dad Graham, right, and eight local builders to refurbish the Alma Arms. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131775-9748)
BIG PLANS Steve Lant already owned The Nell Gwynne in Southsea before teaming up with dad Graham, right, and eight local builders to refurbish the Alma Arms. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131775-9748)
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The Alma Arms didn’t used to be known as a pub where you could enjoy lots of different beer.

But thanks to new landlord Steve Lant, there’s now plenty for customers to choose from.

After taking over in July this year, Steve added five extra beer pumps to the two that were already there.

Real ale and cider is on offer and they’re sourced from local breweries as well as further afield.

The pub, in Highland Road, Eastney, Portsmouth, was closed for around three and a half months before Steve arrived.

He carried out a refurbishment and repainted the interior two shades of blue to keep it in keeping with the colours of Portsmouth.

New carpets and beer pumps were fitted and new tables and chairs were bought.

Pictures of scenes from Southsea and The Battle of Alma, usually considered the first battle of the Crimean War, cover the walls.

On Friday nights there’s karaoke, while live music is held on Saturday.

A resident DJ performs each Sunday.

Steve, who employs five people at the pub, said a lot of hard work had been put in to make it a success.

‘I would like to say it is a true community local,’ he said.

‘That’s what we need.

‘Communities need pubs to bring people together so they can have a good time, raise money for charity and for other people.

‘I want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable here, knowing they will get a good service.’

Steve said he was particularly looking forward to making good use of the pub’s function room, which can hold up to 140 people.

‘It’s a massive asset that will help to make the business work,’ he said.

‘It’s something I have looked at as a second source of revenue to help the business along.

‘It’s capable of holding weddings and parties.

‘We’ve had a slow sort of start.

‘We’ve been getting things out there through word of mouth.

‘A lot of people know we’re open and they like what’s been done here.

‘It’s been hard work, but worth it.

‘It’s a really nice pub with some great locals.’

The pub is on the look out for dart and pool teams, but Steve said he appreciated it was a bit difficult at the moment because it’s the middle of the season for pub leagues.

The name of the pub refers to The River Alma, which flows through the Crimean Peninsular, Ukraine.

MEET THE LANDLORD

MANY landlords find it difficult running just one pub.

But Steve Lant relishes having plenty on his plate – he owns The Nell Gwynne, in Jessie Road, Southsea, and runs The Old House at Home, in Locksway Road, Milton, Portsmouth, on behalf of Enterprise Inns.

As previously reported in The News, Steve re-opened The Nell Gwynne in May after carrying out a huge refurbishment. With the help of his dad Graham Lant and eight local builders, he refurbished the furniture, bar and toilets, replastered the walls, built a new roof and replaced the pink and green decor with Pompey colours.

Ten real ale and cider pumps were installed, as well as Ted’s Cider Bar behind the main bar containing 20 boxed ciders.

Steve, who has been running The Old House at Home for three years, said he prefers to oversee each venue and not have managers helping out instead.

‘I like the challenge,’ he said.

‘I know some people would think you can’t be in one place at once. There are several pub operators in Portsmouth, and rather than run things from a desk like some of them, I like to be on the ground getting to know the locals and finding out if there are any problems.

‘I run things differently because that’s how I want to do things.

‘I know then that things will be consistent in each place.

‘You don’t get managers doing beer differently that way.’

Steve supports HTP Training’s apprenticeship scheme and a lot of his bar staff are apprentices working towards an NVQ in Licensed Hospitality.