Use your local or lose it – that’s the message from one landlord who has had to walk away from one pub and is leaving another due to poor trade.
Steve Lant, who runs pubs across Portsmouth, was forced to leave the Alma Arms, in Eastney, this month after owners Enterprise Inns put it up for sale.
And he’s leaving The Nell Gwynne, in Southsea, by November 30 because it’s not making enough money.
Temporary tenants are being drafted in, but the long-term future of the former cider pub of the year is uncertain.
And rather than blame pub companies for having to give up two of his locals, Steve says those fighting to keep venues open need to start using them if they are to survive.
‘If people supported the pubs they fight for, then they would never be on the brink of closure,’ he said.
‘Instead, they frequent their pub once a month and every football game, and unfortunately that doesn’t keep a pub going and you can’t blame the likes of Enterprise Inns – they are a business.
‘It’s just a case of some pubs don’t work, and because all the people who make the noise about them don’t support them. If you want to keep your pub, you have got to use it.
‘If you want the Great British tradition of the pub, then get in and drink there, or lose it.’
It comes after Andrea Best, landlady of The Mother Shipton, in Stamshaw, revealed she is concerned for the future after her pub was taken over by a property developer.
But Steve says he has no intention of giving up his other venues – The Froddington Arms, in Fratton, The Old House at Home, in Milton, and The Eastfield Hotel, in Eastney, which are doing well.
And he’s recently acquired The Invincible, in Portsea, which is re-opening in early December and becoming a food-led bar with an emphasis on wine and specialist lagers. Tomorrow, The Froddington Arms is re-opening following a £200,000 refurbishment, and The Eastfield Hotel has also been freshened up.
‘Without a doubt, these are growing businesses,’ Steve said.
‘I am hoping to have between eight to 10 pubs this time next year in my portfolio. But pubs can’t cost you money to run.
‘You can’t continue running a business that doesn’t make money.’
The government has revealed following a vote in the House of Commons that pubs owned by large companies will get the option of buying their own beer, rather than through their owners, within the next five years.