Former Italian restaurant in Southsea to open as a food-led pub thanks to £250,000 refurbishment

A FORMER Italian restaurant in Southsea is set to become a food-led pub and boutique hotel with £250,000 of renovation work underway.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 2:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 4:38 pm

Waterlooville pub owner Mick Forfar and Southsea night-club owner Steve Kingsley are working to transform The Italian Bar and Grill in Great Southsea Street, Southsea, into the area’s latest spot for food and drink.

The Grade II listed building has lain empty for the last year, with it previously serving the area as the India Arms pub at the beginning of the last century.

The venue is now returning to its pub roots, but Mick hopes to attract customers with a modern offering that pairs good drink with good food.

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Owners of the pub, Mick Forfar and Steve Kingsley in front of a historic tile artwork uncovered during the venue's refurbishment. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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He said: ‘The focus is good food and good wines. The area is going to be split into three. We’re looking at different names at the moment, but one could be called the Atrium, another we’re thinking of calling the Library.

‘We have a superb garden that will be called the Courtyard.’

And work has already uncovered two historic features that have inspired the venue’s new name.

One of the tile displays in the pub, believed to date back to 1902. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Mick, who owns the Number 73 bar and hotel in Waterlooville, said: ‘We are going to change the name of Carter and Co, after the makers of two Grade II listed tile signs we have uncovered.

‘We believe they date back to 1902.’

The 140 seat venue will also feature seven en-suite bedrooms upstairs, which will become a ‘boutique hotel’, according to Mick.

Owners of the pub, Mick Forfar and Steve Kingsley hope for the venue to be ready by the time lockdown ends. Picture: Habibur Rahman

He said: ‘Without the rooms, I wouldn’t have touched it with a bargepole.

‘The rooms will be a god-send. It’s a long term investment.’

Mick has learned the value of having another revenue stream for the pub after his time running Number 73, which has 10 rooms.

He said: ‘They’ve been full-up all year with key workers needing to travel across the country.’

The pub will be named Carter and Co - in honour of the craftsmen behind two historic tile displays uncovered during renovation works. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The venue, which will be owned by pub chain Ei, was going to briefly reopen to make the most of Christmas trade before closing for three months of refurbishment work.

Mick said: ‘With the lockdown, there’s no rush, which means we can take our time to get the design right.

‘We’re hoping to open in May, when the lockdown has ended.’

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