Two business partners are introducing a much-loved venue back to Southsea Pier as they prepare to open The Gaiety Bar this weekend.
Long-time friends Trevor Bratty and Jack Edwards have spent the last six months restoring the bar to its former glory, while also giving it a classy new look.
Jack said: ‘Trevor and I grew up together. He already owns businesses on the pier so we knew the landlord.
‘He approached us to see if we were interested. With his business expertise and my entertainment knowledge, we decided to give it a go.’
Trevor and Jack are well aware of the impact the opening will have on Portsmouth, as the pair were loyal customers.
Jack said: ‘Before The Gaiety closed, Trevor and I came here all the time for the talent shows and boxing nights. We can’t wait for people to see the difference. We’ve spent a lot of money getting it where it needs to be.
‘We’ve kept the original architecture of the building including the great arches that people will remember, but we’ve gone with a classy white and light grey scheme.
‘We’ve also installed 16 chandeliers which are stunning.’
For the official launch, the venue will be hosting two halloween parties, one for children and one for adults.
Jack added: ‘The kids’ party includes a science show in the afternoon and the adult party in the evening will have live music from The Bootlegs, a popular local band.’
As well as new decor, the venue has new lighting, furniture and a new sound system.
Jack said: ‘The Gaiety is going to be inclusive of everyone. We might have a tea dance in the afternoon, dance classes, boxing, celebrity nights and maybe comedy nights – something everyone can enjoy.’
The site also function as a pub. Jack added: ‘Before, the venue was either open or shut. We’ve decided to use the raised area as an everyday pub, open during normal pub hours.’
Over Christmas, the owners are hosting 15 events, festively dubbed Sleighbells Bling.
Jack said: ‘We’ve had such a wonderful response from the public. We’ve sold over half of the tickets for our Christmas and halloween events before we’ve even opened so there is limited availability. It just goes to show what people want.’
More than anything, the pair are happy to be involved in bringing the pier back to life.
‘What is happening with the pier is fantastic. We have a fully functioning pier now, like Brighton or Bournemouth.
‘It’s what the city needs and it’s going to be an incredible place.’