Once The Fawcett Inn was in such dire straits that regulars feared it would shut down for good.
But now the books have been balanced at the pub in Southsea, and owners Admiral Tavern have pumped £100,000 into the refurbishment of the Victorian pub.
Last month, brewery officials and the pub’s new manager Andrew Diddines got rid of the sticky floors, drab walls and dingy toilets.
The team closed the pub for 10 days as they gave the bar and courtyard walls a new coat of paint, installed new wooden flooring and redecorated the toilets.
A new wooden bar was also set up in the grade II listed pub, which dates back to 1850.
The pub plans to dish up food for its customers when a new kitchen is fitted in the next couple of weeks.
Less than two years ago the pub’s previous managers were given a £3,000 fine from Admiral Taverns after they broke their contract by buying in drinks from elsewhere.
Since then, the Fawcett Road pub has shut on numerous occasions and reopened under different managers – but Andrew, who has been in charge for months, is eager to see it move on from its rocky past.
Andrew, 39, who works with a team of two barmen, said: ‘I was aware of the pub’s bad name when I started, but I wanted to make it my goal to turn it around.
‘We now do draught beers and real ales on tap, so that’s hopefully going to attract customers.
‘The pub is looking fantastic, a lot of work has been put into making it look appealing.
‘People have come in and commented on how much brighter and cleaner it looks and how it makes them feel more welcome.’
Following the refurbishment, students are now being urged to come up with a new design for the pub’s outdoor sign.
Entries for the new-look sign, which will be unveiled in February, are being judged at the end of the month.
An iPad, £200 worth of shopping vouchers and £100 cash is up for grabs for the chosen winner and the runner-up.
The Fawcett Inn is steeped in history.
It was named after Lieutenant Alexander Fawcett, 20, who was killed at Bejapore, India, in 1853 during India’s First War of Independence.
A memorial to Mr Fawcett is inside Portsmouth Cathedral, at St Thomas’s Street, Old Portsmouth.
Dan Hickin, 30, who has been a barman at The Fawcett Inn for a month, said: ‘I love my job because the social aspect of it is great.
‘The goal this year is to attract more customers and let them know we’re here to stay.
‘The future of the pub is without a doubt looking bright.’