Man ‘Headed To Jail’ Once Saved By His Girlfriend And The Advice Of A Wise Pub Landlord

A Toxteth man who was once ‘in prison’ is now a successful businessman after his girlfriend, who is now his wife, showed him the error of his ways.

Tony Grice, 42, from Toxteth, was born into a life where crime and not knowing “when the next meal would come” was the norm. As a boy, he went through a circular daily existence that constantly troubled him with the police and in court, and despite what he calls a “good upbringing,” thanks to his parents, he was destined for prison. , being a product of the environment in which it was raised.

Yet Tony is now a successful businessman and, after several ventures including a Beatles travel agency and a minibus company, he owns the FIKA cafe which has just opened a new spot on the seafront .

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He said: “I had a tough upbringing where I was basically just heading for jail, really. I was arrested a couple of times. I was in court a lot. I was a product of the environment I grew up in. I was headed for prison, but I kind of accepted it.

“You saw children who were a little older than you, and they were already going to prison. Then, when they got out, they were stealing cars and selling drugs.” His parents did not condone or encourage this behavior, but his family was without means and it had a detrimental effect on how much of a perfect citizen Tony could be as a young man.

He said: “There were days when we were hungry. So basically that was it, that was really my childhood. It was a very difficult upbringing and there were times when you didn’t know where would the next meal come from? It was a good upbringing because of my parents, but it was a tough upbringing all the same. There were days when we were hungry.

The life he led reached a boiling point when Tony passed his teenage years. It was the culmination of self-reflection and Lindsey, his new girlfriend at the time, with whom he now shares two children, Jess and Anthony. He said: “There comes a time in your life when you think I can’t do this anymore, that’s not me. I’m going to prove that I’m different.

“I ended up having a relationship and I was trying to impress and impress. It was the kind of relationship where she wasn’t impressed with someone selling drugs or someone stealing cars or was a criminal – she was more impressed if I was going to get a job and try to be respectable.”

When asked if he thought he owed Lindsay where he is now, he replied, “Yes, one hundred percent.”

He is now a business owner and a man recognized by his community for his work during the pandemic, turning his café into a food bank. But he didn’t plan for it to turn out this way, instead letting his difficult experiences and the advice of a local charity business owner guide him.

Tony said: “It’s well documented what I’ve done throughout the pandemic, turning coffee into a food bank, but I didn’t do it for recognition, I did it because I know what it’s like to be struggling and hungry I can I remember a guy who had a pub near where I grew up called the Bankhouse.

“The way he ran his pub was by giving back to the community. He said the community we lived in, we had each other [even if] we didn’t have much. At the pub he had fireworks, Christmas parties, Halloween parties, all free and people respected him because of that and I felt that was the way I wanted to do my business. So I started to reinvest in the community.”

Tony’s most recent achievement is his new waterfront cafe. The opportunity was presented to him by Local Solutions, a major Merseyside charity which works to help communities.

The cafe will be run by Tony and some of his regular team members, but will also be staffed by underprivileged young people who grew up in similar circumstances to him. He said: “We will be working with children who have had a difficult start in life and just need a little break.

“We can give them experience, we can create a resume for them. You know you can’t get experience without a job, and you can’t get a job without experience.

“A lot of young people struggle and the older you get when you have no experience, employers look at that and think what have you done? So it gives young people a platform to start and gives them really one foot on a ladder to move with a better life.

“I know what it is. I don’t want to see anyone in trouble and I always try to help people in any way I can.

“I know what it’s like to get in trouble, to get in trouble with the police. I know what it’s like to think there’s no way out and you’re just going to be failure in life and if I can give someone the platform to move on, then I will.”

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