Former Geronimo Inns managing director Ed Turner is launching a new pub company and has secured his first site, with Star Pubs & Bars, MCA has learnt.

Turner and his wife Buffy are taking on the lease the Old Ale House near the cathedral in Salisbury in the first of a planned series of Buff and Bear Salons across Hampshire and Wiltshire.

Turner said he was already in discussions with Star about a second site for Buff and Bear Saloons which he hoped would come online early next year. He said he hoped to open two sites a year going forward and was talking to all the major pubcos.

The first site will re-open in early August as the Old Ale and Coffee House after a £282,000 joint investment by Star and the Turners.

On his plans for the estate, Turner said: “This is not Geronimo Mark II. It’s more informal, it’s about having fun. These are going to be pubs that people are going to want to get on social media and talk about what they’ve just discovered.

“What I want to do is take the level of service and the offer available in London bars and mix in the character of the local area. Events aren’t just going to be an added extra for these pubs. They’re going to be an integral part of the personalities of the sites.

“I see a real demand for that. People’s expectations of what they want from a pub are now just as high outside London but too many pubs aren’t delivering in terms of the quality of wines on offer, the range of beers, the innovation within food.”

The Old Ale and Coffee House will be refurbished inside and out, including adding a new courtyard garden for alfresco drinking and dining with its own bar. Inside traditional features will be retained while creating a more contemporary environment through local art and photography.

The pub will offer a menu of small dishes which will include pork rillettes, lobster mac and cheese and Godminster welsh rarebit. Larger plates will feature Test Valley trout with crème fresh, brown butter gnocchi with spinach and pine nuts, alongside classic dishes such as shorthorn burgers, flat iron steaks and of course fish and chips. Saturday will feature all day brunches and coffee will be supplied by Southampton based artisan coffee roasters, Mozzo.

Wines have been sourced through Ellis of Richmond with some specialist Italian bins from Botter wines, Burgundies from Louis Latour and Camel Valley sparkling wine from Cornwall, and beers will include quality draught brands such as Lagunitas, Freedom, Heineken, Theakstons, Wild Beer, Bier Moretti as well as over 20 bottled craft beers. There will also be tumblers of gins and rums, cocktails including Mozzo Espresso Martinis, Sipsmith Sloe gin Fizz, Duppys rum punch and a range of speciality Bloody Marys.

On his decision to set up his own company, Turner said: “I did get offers to come and work with people and while there was a lot that was tempting about that, I decided this was the best path for me and my family. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Young’s but now I’m shackle free and thoroughly enjoying it.”

On the relationship with Star, he said: “It all started with the site – which was exactly what I wanted. I know Lawson (Mountstevens, managing director) from old so I rang him up and asked him about it and it started from there. I like their model and they have some great sites so I think there’s a lot of potential to work together.”

Mountstevens said: “Ed and Buffy have great plans for the Old Ale & Coffee House, which will have broad appeal to tourists and young and old alike. We’re delighted to be investing in their vision for Old Ale & Coffee House and look forward to building a long term relationship with them both.”

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