The Portsmouth kebab van owner who’s given a country pub a new lease of life

The Old Forge Inn reopened on Friday, October 5. Pictured is: Owner Kemal Aksoy (50)
The Old Forge Inn reopened on Friday, October 5. Pictured is: Owner Kemal Aksoy (50)
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A pub famous for its carveries has been given a new lease of life – and has reopened following a year-long refurbishment with a new owner. 

Kemal Aksoy has poured his heart and soul – and thousands of pounds – into The Old Forge Inn, in Shedfield, to realise his life-long dream of owning his own venue. 

The Old Forge Inn in Shedfield reopened on Friday 5th October.

The Old Forge Inn in Shedfield reopened on Friday 5th October.

Kemal, 50, originally from Turkey, has run the kebab van on the roundabout in Hilsea for the past 20 years. But he has been spending every spare moment for the past year renovating The Old Forge Inn. After months of gruelling work, it finally opened for business last Friday. 

Kemal has moved from his home in Waterlooville and is now living above the Meon Valley pub, as he makes a go of his new business.

Claire Aksoy, his ex-wife and mother to his two children, has been helping him to set up the pub. 

She said: ‘He has completely overhauled it, torn down walls, put in new toilets, the works.

The Old Forge Inn in Shedfield reopened on Friday 5th October.''Pictured is: (l-r) Marco Singh (10), Akal Singh (17), Sandra Singh and Raj Singh from Shedfield.

The Old Forge Inn in Shedfield reopened on Friday 5th October.''Pictured is: (l-r) Marco Singh (10), Akal Singh (17), Sandra Singh and Raj Singh from Shedfield.

‘He is from Turkey so there's lots of Turkish influences, the lights have been imported from Turkey as has some of the furniture and the bar. Everyone has said how amazing it is and how much better it is now.’ 

The previous owners retired last year, and Kemal saw the opportunity to realise his ambition of running his own restaurant. 

Claire said: ‘The burger van was his stepping stone. He always wanted to have his own restaurant. That was his big dream. It was a big step but he’s up to the challenge and he has a good team.’  

The pub has hired a team of 10 people, and is also on the look out for more staff. 

Kemal is offering a three-meat carvery – beef, gammon and turkey – seven days a week, as well as a vegetarian option, fish and food from a Turkish grill. The carvery costs £7 Monday to Friday and £8.50 on Saturday and Sunday. There is a children’s option for £5.50. 

The pub is a freehouse so it is offering a large range of drinks, including Guinness, Fosters, Heineken, Strongbow, Amstel, Starboard, BOB brewed by Wickwar Wessex Brewing Co, San Miguel and John Smith’s. 

Claire said: ‘It was so nice to see the place so busy last weekend. We hope the locals like what we are doing and we are trying to get the word out that we are open. We hope that families will come in and try us and like us.’