How to Open a Bar


How to Open a Bar

Making the decision to open a business should be prefaced by a lot of thought and planning, with the prospective entrepreneurs knowing that it is really a job that never ends. Long hours, financial pressure and management issues are just a few of the obstacles they will encounter. The bar business can pose more challenges than most with drinking laws and liability problems, so if you are thinking of how you might start a bar business, consider the following before pouring that first beer.

  1. 1

    Assess your personality. It takes a certain kind of person to own a bar, the kind of person who won’t mind long hours and hands-on work. Even if you decide to hire managers to run the day-to-day operations, you will still need to be visible and in-house to make sure that everyone is doing their jobs properly.

  2. 2

    Look at your lifestyle. A family man or an early-rising woman may not appreciate being at work until 3:00 a.m., finishing up after last call. If you don’t mind being out at work until the early morning hours, and tend to enjoy sleeping in a little later than most, then your lifestyle can be the right type needed to start a bar business.

  3. 3

    Learn about the different kinds of bars you can own. There are concept or theme bars, brewpubs, sports bars, nightclubs and your down-the-street neighborhood bar. Each one is run differently and range in size. Look at the trends in your area and decide what might succeed in your demographic and what would mesh with your goals and management style.

  4. 4

    Scout out your competition. Once you have decided on the type of bar you want to open, visit every bar in the area that is similar. You will get ideas about how you can make your bar stand out from the rest, and see what works and what doesn’t.

  5. 5

    Choose your location carefully. Whether you are buying an existing bar with the plan of renovating and changing it to your needs, or buying a lot and building from the ground up, location is a key factor in your success. You should own a bar that is easily accessible to customers and has the benefit of some decent visibility.

  6. 6

    Fill out the liquor license application. It’s not a guarantee that you will be granted a liquor license, so apply for it early, before you either buy an existing bar or begin construction. It can take up to 3 months for you to hear if you have received a liquor license, so keep that in mind before going forward.

  7. 7

    Determine your operating budget. Renovation and building costs, inventory, staff salaries, insurance premiums and utilities are some of the bills that you can expect to pay when you open a business.

  8. 8

    Conduct detailed interviews for staff. Don’t assume that anyone can work in your bar and that they can learn as they go. Hire and train your staff and managers to be trusted and experienced employees since how they treat customers and the level of service is crucial to the survival of your business.


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