Locals were gutted when they realised their favourite pub had closed.
Now everyone who used to enjoy a drink at The Florence Arms, in Southsea, is smiling again because a new face has stepped in and reopened the popular boozer.
Chris Faulkner bought the lease of the pub from Punch Taverns after former owners Greg Clark and Jane Goldring, both 56, decided to leave in May after 15 years in charge.
And it’s good news for cider lovers because Mr Faulkner, who is also the leaseholder of three other pubs in Portsmouth, doesn’t plan to change the pub’s focus on selling a wide variety of the drink. Customers can choose between six draught ciders and eight bottled varieties.
Mr Faulkner, 35, of Copnor, reopened the doors of the pub, in Florence Road, on June 27.
He said: ‘I won’t be making any drastic changes. At the moment I’m getting a feel for the area and an understanding of what the locals like and dislike.
‘I wanted to take on The Florence Arms because as soon as I walked into the place I fell in love with it.
‘It’s a proper, old-fashioned British boozer with bags of character.
‘I still want to stock real cider and I’m looking to expand our selection of real ales too.’
Entertainment was brought back on Wednesday when a pub quiz offering a £50 cash prize was held.
A function room which doubles up as a restaurant will be used by local arts groups which have performed at the pub in the past.
Barman Luke Richmond has worked at the pub for three and a half years.
Mr Richmond, of Fratton, said: ‘The new owner is a really nice bloke who really wants to make a go of it here. I wish the best of luck to him. I’m proud to work at The Florence Arms.’
MEET THE LANDLORD
LANDLORD Chris Faulkner enjoys life in the pub trade because it isn’t your everyday nine until five office job.
Before he took over the pumps Mr Faulkner was a Royal Navy aircraft engineer and now he sees many similarities between the roles.
‘They both give you flexibility and you’re doing something different every day,’ he said.
He was forced to leave the forces because he was suffering problems with his back and neck.
‘I was devastated,’ he said.
‘It took me a good couple of years to get myself back on my feet and get my confidence back.’
Mr Faulkner then took over The Swan, in Jessie Road, Bedhampton, which his mum Maddie Faulkner now runs. As well as The Florence Arms he is now the leaseholder of The Fawcett Inn, The Royal Albert, both in Southsea, and The Pelham Arms, in North End.
‘Being in the pub trade is something I am incredibly passionate about – more so than I was about being in the navy,’ he said.
‘It’s tough going, and you wouldn’t believe the number of hours I’ve put in at this pub so far. But it’s worth it.’