When Trevor Larvin took over The Cabman’s Rest, he knew he needed to make some big changes and rid the pub of its bad reputation.
So the 48-year-old booted out the customers that had been a source of trouble in recent years and set up a live music night in an effort to draw in new crowds.
Mr Larvin, who took over the pub in Plymouth Street, Somers Town, in February, brought in bands to perform in the bar every Saturday after he discovered there was a hole in the market.
‘I sat down one day and realised there isn’t a decent place to go and watch live music between North End and Southsea,’ Mr Larvin said.
‘So far it’s been a success.
‘The locals liked my idea and they are extremely supportive of what I want to achieve here.’
Police were forced to close down the pub twice last year because of incidents relating to drugs and violence.
Last December thieves stole more than £1,000 from the pub in a break-in.
‘The focus at the moment is letting people know we are open again and this isn’t a rough place any more,’ Mr Larvin said.
‘I have a zero tolerance of drugs and violence.
‘One of my customers is 88 – I don’t want him having to put up with any trouble.
‘In a year’s time I would love to see this place as a social hub of the community.
‘Right now it’s quite an exciting time because we’re right in the middle of the Somers Town redevelopment so hopefully that will help to get the pub’s name out there again.’
As part of Mr Larvin’s drive to pull in extra trade he is offering a 20 per cent discount on drinks and food for people in the services.
On June 30 the pub will hold an evening of fun in aid of a worthy cause.
Indie rockers Epic Estate will perform a few numbers and Mr Larvin will dish up a barbecue for hungry locals.
Proceeds from the evening event will go towards The Rowans Hospice.
A regular who hasn’t had a haircut in 30 years will also get his head shaved.
Another customer will also sing and play an acoustic guitar at the bar.
Mr Larvin wants to raise cash for the hospice because his late wife Debbie, 50, who ran The Surrey Arms, in Surrey Street, Landport, died of cancer last July.
‘Debbie was a real character,’ Mr Larvin said.
‘Practically everybody in Portsmouth knew who she was.’
‘I think it’s extremely important for local pubs to support local charities.’
LANDLORD Trevor Larvin learnt the basics of the pub trade when he helped his late wife Debbie behind the bar at The Surrey Arms.
The pair ran the Landport pub from 2009 until Debbie died last year.
Mr Larvin then worked as a cavity wall insulator but he began looking for a job back in the pub trade after he was made redundant.
He then took over at The Cabman’s Rest this year after its leaseholder Paul Ogla, who also holds the lease of The Surrey Arms, recommended it to him.
Mr Larvin’s wife had been friends with Mr Ogla for 30 years.
‘It just seemed right to take up his offer,’ Mr Larvin said.
‘I really enjoy working in pubs. It’s not just a job - it’s a lifestyle and I love the social aspect of it. Plus it’s nice being your own boss too. It certainly beats sitting in an office all day.
‘Every day is different and you never know who is going to walk through your doors.
‘I would like to think that Debbie is looking down on me and is proud of me continuing life in the pub trade.’
Mr Larvin loves fishing, reading and travelling - but his hobbies have been put on hold for the time being.
‘Just after I took over The Cabman’s Rest I went to South Africa and visited a lion breeding sanctuary. I just figured it was one of those things I had to do in life,’ he said.
Mr Larvin, who is also a former computer engineer, added: ‘Now I’m concentrating all my efforts into getting this pub back on its feet.
‘In my eyes this is the last chance for this pub to succeed. I hope I can make a go of it.’