When entrepreneur Mick Forfar took over the former Wellington Pub in Waterlooville and revealed his plan to turn the site into a upmarket restaurant and wine bar, people said it would never work.
Today, 18 months and £500,000 later, the site has been transformed and people have been flocking to check out the newest venue in town.
Mick, from Southsea, bought the site in April 2017 and finally got planning permission to demolish the dilapidated building nine months later.
Work began in March and the venue opened its doors earlier this month.
Property developer Mick said: ‘People didn’t think that a cocktail bar would work in Waterlooville. There are run down areas in the town but there was no one catering for people who didn’t want to sit in a chain pub with beer drinkers.
‘We have been really busy since we opened. There is a demand there, Waterlooville just needed someone who was prepared to take a risk.'
The venue, which employs 10 staff, has a range of cocktails - with Cosmopolitans, Pink 75 – made with pink gin and prosecco – and Number 73 - made with Lillet blanc, Portobello gin, Maraschino, orange bitters and angostura bitters - being the most popular.
There are two lagers on draft – Birra Moretti and Amstel, a cider called Orchard Thieves and an IPA called Maltsmiths.
The bar is the first in the area to install self-service wine machines, serving four white wines and four red wines.
Mick said: ‘It means that you can bypass the queues at the bar and you can help yourself.'
As well as drink, the venue is offering breakfasts from 9am, lunch and evening meals. Its pizzas have proved popular, and they are made fresh by an Italian pizza chef and cooked in the ovens which came from Jamie Oliver's restaurant.
Above the venue, Mick is working hard to finish the 10 rooms, which he will let out via Air BnB.
The venue may look completely different, but parts of the Wellington still live on – parts of the former pub have been used to make the bar and tables and line the walls.
He said: ‘The old pub has not quite died, it still lives on in the furniture. The old regulars love the fact the Wellington is not forgotten.’