USE your local or risk losing it.
That’s the message from one pub landlady urging the community to rally round and support her business.
Julie Francis, manager of The Harvest Home, in Copnor Road, Portsmouth, says things haven’t been great so far this year.
But she remains optimistic about the year and wants more people to know about the fun to be had at her boozer.
‘The pub is struggling a little bit,’ Julie, 46, said.
‘A couple of men came in here on a Monday and they said they hadn’t been in for 10 years or so.
‘They said they had forgotten how nice it was and normally would just walk past.
‘So I really want to get the message out there, that this is a proper, old-fashioned boozer, it’s a community pub.
‘It’s not like any of the chain pubs. If you want a specific thing on the telly and the regulars want it on, then you can have it on.’
Julie said it was sad to see more and more local pubs closing – and sometimes feels her venue misses out as it’s not part of the North End strip.
‘We have always had live music and we’ve been known for our live music on a Saturday,’ she said.
‘However, a lot of the pubs are doing live music now.
‘In North End, you can see bands in pubs that are within walking distance of each other.
‘We are a bit on our own.’
The Harvest Home does a quiz night on a Wednesday and a meat raffle on Sundays.
Customers also enjoy a round of ‘blokes bar bingo’ on the weekend.
There’s a men’s and women’s dart team, and the pub hopes to get a pool team together.
Julie said: ‘The situation is not that bad, it’s just we had a hit this year.
‘Christmas and New Year weren’t that great.
‘A lot of people didn’t go out and that’s when you tend to make a bit more money.
‘I absolutely want to see the pub thrive again.
‘We have had a couple of wakes and parties, and we don’t charge.
‘We also have a resident DJ.’
One real ale is served, though there is room for another when the pub knows it’s got a crowd of beer lovers in.
And looking forward, Julie wants to bring some old-school touches back to the pub.
‘I would like to get back to the traditional things,’ she said.
‘Things like old blokes coming in and playing cribbage in the evenings and on the weekends.
‘All the traditional games and rather than just the bands touring North End, I would like to see Motown and 60s music played here.’
Meet the landlady
CARING manager Julie Francis loves animals.
She keeps two chickens and two hens at the back of The Harvest Home.
And on Sundays, she allows children who come into the pub with their relatives to feed them.
‘I really think we are an important part of the community,’ Julie said.
‘There’s not many pubs you can go in and they know you by name.
‘The people here, if they know you, pour you your drink as soon as you walk in the door.’
Julie, who grew up in Baffins, previously worked in retail for 16 years, 12 of those as a manager.
She was a regular at The Harvest Home when the opportunity came up to take over.
Talking about her reasons for wanting to get into the pub trade, Julie said: ‘I was looking for a change, a new direction and I was a regular at the pub anyway, and saw quite a lot of opportunity.
‘The pub was between managers at the time, I saw the opportunity and decided to take it.
‘It was quite a busy pub at the time.
‘The Swan nearby was open at the time as well.
‘But they had a change in management so some of the customers who normally went there started coming over to The Harvest Home.
Julie says she loves making her customers feel happy and at home - and always looks out for their interests.
‘I mostly enjoy everyone sitting back enjoying themselves,’ she said.
‘It makes me feel happy if everyone is happy.
‘If you have a customer who comes in and has had a bad day and they leave happy after a couple of pints and a chat, then that’s job satisfaction.’