The average American drinks around 2.3 gallons of alcohol per year, and going to a bar on a Friday or Saturday night is a part of many people’s weekly routines. This means that many of us dream of someday opening our own bar, a place where we can set the rules and the tone, a bar of our own where we’re the boss.
If you’re wondering how to open your own bar, we’re here to help you. There’s a lot of work involved if you want to create your own watering hole, and it’s important to understand what you’re getting into before you get started.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at everything that’s involved with opening a bar, the checklist of equipment that you’ll need, and what paperwork is involved.
Are you ready to learn more? Then read on!
1. Figure Out the Licenses You Need
Opening a bar often means getting a lot of licenses. You’ll need a liquor license for a start, as well as a business license. However, there are often other licenses that you’ll need, and they vary between areas, so make sure that you do your research and get every license you need to operate legally.
2. Write a Business Plan
Okay, this probably isn’t what you expected when it came to opening a bar. It’s boring, but you must write a business plan, as a bar is, at the end of the day, a business.
In your business plan, you need to talk about:
- Market research
- The products that you’re going to sell
- How you’re going to market your bar
- How your company will operate
- Your financial projections
- Your funding
A business plan is vital, especially if you want to seek outside funding for your bar (more on that in a moment), so this should be one of the very first tasks you complete.
3. Funding Your Bar
A bar can’t spring fully formed out of nothing. Opening a bar can cost as little as $25,000 and as much as $100,000, so you’re going to need some serious cash behind your dreams.
There are a few different options that you can pursue to get funding. You could try to seek investors but unless you have a very unique idea behind your bar, you might struggle, as bars aren’t exactly rare and many will fail.
A business loan from a bank may be a better option. The likelihood of succeeding will depend on the quality of your business plan, so if this is a route that you want to go down, make sure to polish your business plan to within an inch of its life.
Finally, you could also open up a bar with your savings. This is the best option, as it means that you won’t be reliant on anyone else and can do things exactly as you want to. There will be no external pressure and no worries about cash.
4. Getting a Location
Next up, you need to find a good location for your bar. You should consider this carefully, as a good location can make or break a bar.
You’ll want to make sure that there isn’t another bar like the one that you’re going to open in the area. For instance, if you want to open a tiki bar and there’s already one on the same street, look for another location.
You should also consider what kind of area you’re looking at. You shouldn’t open up a dive bar in an upscale area, for instance, nor should you open a wine bar or a cocktail lounge in a low-income area.
You may be tempted to buy the property if it’s selling at a good price, but this isn’t recommended. If your bar fails, you’ll end up having to pay off an expensive mortgage or scrambling to find another buyer who will take it off your hands. Instead, rent the property on a month-to-month basis and only buy the property if the bar is a success over several years.
5. Trademark Your Name and Logo
When you’ve got a location and you know what your bar is going to be called, it’s time to trademark your name. You should also trademark the logo. This means that no one else will be able to use it and you can protect your business’ name and reputation.
6. Get Your Supplies and Hire Staff
With all the paperwork taken care of, it’s time to start gathering your supplies. You should start by getting your decor. This can vary in price dramatically depending upon whether you’re buying new furniture and decorations or whether you’re buying from thrift stores for that boho look.
Next, you’ll also need to get the most important part of any bar: the drinks. Get a good selection of different liquors across a wide price range, while keeping your target market in mind. You should also make sure that you have plenty of beer (draft and bottled), as well as some wine.
If you’re opening a cocktail bar, you’ll also need to look for shakers and a commercial blender for sale: without these, cocktails are off the menu!
Depending on the size of the bar and what kind of bar you’re going to open, you may want to hire staff to help you out. This can include bartenders, waitstaff, cleaners, and security.
7. Open Your Bar
Now that you’ve got everything sorted out, it’s time for you to open your bar! Don’t expect to be too busy on your first night, unless you’ve pulled off an amazing marketing campaign. With time, marketing, and word of mouth, your customer numbers should soon start picking up.
How to Open Your Own Bar: Answered
Hopefully, you now know a lot more about how to open your own bar. If you’ve always dreamed of opening a bar, there’s nothing stopping you. Follow our tips and you should have a great watering hole on your hands!
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