Friends transform former post office into new tap room

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FOUR friends are embarking on a new business venture together.

In the last four months, Simon Gardiner, Paul Clilverd, Lee Carter and Matt Howarth have been gutting the old Post Office and former Premier convenience store on Palmerston Road.

In two weeks time the site will reopen as Croxton’s, a new kitchen and tap room offering a mixture of healthy and comfort-style foods with real ales and craft beers.

No stranger to launching a new venture, co-founder Simon is also a director of Portsmouth-based recruitment firm Carrington West.

He joked: ‘I guess you could say I’ve got a strong entrepreneurial drive!

‘This idea been discussed by my friends and I for a couple of years. Paul has extensive experience in running bars, Matt is an extremely talented local designer and Lee is a well-known builder.

‘We’d seen a lot of bars opening in the area and thought ‘we can do that!’

The group merged their skillsets to renovate the building which now has a kitchen, toilets and a bar with 13 taps.

The team are sourcing food and drink from local producers including Bread Addiction and La Espanola.

Simon said they are excited to bring their new concept to the area, and just in time for the summer rush.

He added: ‘We’re on the doorstep of the seafront, which is a fantastic location.

‘We’ve had lots of people pop in to see what we’re doing and the feedback has been really encouraging.

‘It might seem like we have a lot of competition in this area but, if we all work together, we can push each other to further success.’

On going into business with his friends, Simon said: ‘You need to work with people you’re not afraid to butt heads with, but who will also pick you up and give you the motivation you need. That’s why we all work well together.’

On the opening, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport Councillor Linda Symes said: ‘The trend of the high street is changing.

As much as we would like more retail stores, nowadays, the most vibrant shopping areas are a mix of retail stores, restaurants and bars.

The internet has a lot to do with this, as customers are happier to shop online.

‘The bar has applied for reasonable opening hours, reflecting the needs of nearby residents. We wish them every success.’