The owner of a new bar in Dartmouth is hoping her restaurant can overcome a controversial history and attract people to the downtown.

Staggers Pub and Grub on Portland Street sits on a location plagued with a criminal past. The kitchen was the source of scandal when it was called Sam's Place.

A health inspector found a bag of marijuana in the deep fryer last year. An employee was convicted of drug trafficking and the old owners were barred from serving alcohol and operating video lottery terminals.

Debbie Phinney, the owner of Staggers Pub and Grub, said she knows she's facing an uphill battle to change public opinion.

"It is a changed environment. It is not going to be the same place that once had the bad names and just the bad scenarios it had with it," she said.

Phinney said she's replaced the kitchen and hired new staff. The VLTs have been replaced with board game nights. A win for the pub is a win for downtown Dartmouth, she said.

"Any downtown should be a place where people want to go, where tourists want to be because that's where they tend to head," she said.