PUNTERS from across the region have had their say on their favourite place to enjoy a couple of pints.
Now, staff at the Delme Arms pub in Fareham are celebrating being named the winner of The News’ 2017 Pub of the Year award.
The venue went through a major takeover in 2014 – and shows no sign of slowing down its dramatic return to form.
Landlord Neil Matthew says that the award is down to the strong work ethic of the pub’s staff.
He said: ‘It feels fantastic for us to be this year’s Pub of the Year.
‘The pub has come a long way in the past three years – and it is a testament to the staff and our great customers.
‘There was a significant investment in the takeover three years ago, and we wanted to restore the pub to the glory days of the 1980s.
‘It has been hard work but it all seems to have been worthwhile.
‘To me, the final piece of the puzzle was the staff members we have brought on board.
‘They are all so enthusiastic and really seem to enjoy working here – they have built up strong relationships with our regular customers as well, which is great to see.
‘Behind the closed doors, we also have a new chef, who has been a revelation. I always used to struggle with the food side of things, but he has really pulled it all together.
‘I think the pub is better now than it ever has been.’
Neil believes that the toughest challenge was to shake off the reputation of the old version of the Delme Arms.
He said: ‘We had to improve the reputation of the pub in order to get people through the doors.
‘Even now, three years after the takeover, people come in and comment on how much the pub has changed from what it used to be.
‘I think that shows that what we have done has been a major success.’
The Delme Arms now also hosts an annual beer festival, which Neil says has gone from strength to strength.
He said: ‘I do wonder if the beer festival is part of the reason why we won.
‘The festival has really grown since it first started, and I think it’s great to have the celebration of both local brews and musical talent from the surrounding area.
‘It is a proper community event and is only going to get even better.
‘I would like to thank everyone who voted for us – winning this award really does mean a lot to everyone here at the Delme Arms.’