How to Start a Bar

Image of Liquor in a Bar

An Overview of Starting A Bar Plus Valuable Resources

Overview:

Friends, laughter, celebrations, entertainment, and fun! These are the things that might come to your mind when you think about owning your own bar as you imagine rooms filled with friendly conversation, music, and people enjoying themselves.

If you’re thinking of opening a sports bar, you might envision an exciting game on big-screen TVs with everyone cheering and have a great time.

Owning a bar sounds like the perfect life for many potential entrepreneurs, but it’s not always fun and games behind the scenes. When people refuse to spend money on other things they will still spend it on alcohol.

No matter where it is located, a bar will draw people in, many of whom will become nightly regulars.

Opening a bar takes a set of skills. Make sure you take care to assemble the right team, write a good plan, and get the funding you need to launch.

Skill Set:
Employee & Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase Or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

For a bar that doesn’t sell food, there is not much of a need to be open much before 6:00 p.m., as there won’t be much of a crowd during the day.

However, if a bar does sell food it is important to be open early enough for the lunch rush. When it comes to closing times, most bars are legally required to close at 2:00 am.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • Fully equipped bar
  • Bar stools
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Televisions
  • Music System
  • Ice bin
  • Ice Scoop
  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Blenders
  • Soda gun
  • Cocktail shakers and strainers
  • Speed bottles
  • Pour tops
  • Garnish bins
  • Glass Racks
  • Bottle openers Paring knives
  • Cutting boards
  • Glass mats
  • Dart machines
  • Pool tables
  • Arcades/ pool tables/ darts/ other forms of entertainment
  • List of Essential office Equipment
Monthly Expenses To Consider:

List of Common Monthly Expenses

Licenses:

A liquor license and a license to sell food will be required by law to run a bar. These are the two absolute necessities for anyone who owns and runs a bar.

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Tips & Considerations:
  • Buy the liquor, beer, and supplies. This will be paid for out of the three-month funds. Order enough to last until the next purchasing day. The startup can cost more than what the actual monthly cost will be.
  • Obtain neon lights and signs from the distributors. Any other items should be bought out of the first three months funds. This expense is a one-time expense.
  • Hire bartenders and any other staff members that are needed. Be sure to choose carefully, and call references. Pick employees that seem like genuinely nice and hard-working people. Treat them well if you want them to respect you and your business.
  • Before you toast your new venture, ask yourself these questions in order to determine if the bar or nightclub business is right for you:

1. Do you like people?
2. Are you willing to work nights and weekends?
3. Can you handle your liquor responsibly?
4. Do you mind babysitting adults?
5. Are you prepared to deal with local liquor laws?

  • A bar isn’t a party; it’s a business. Treat it that way in order to succeed.
  • Name your bar or nightclub carefully. A good name will tell potential customers something about your establishment. Where it’s located, for instance, what it serves, or even whether it’s laid back or full of energy.
  • Free and discounted drinks can be great marketing. Be conservative, though. You can’t afford to pay for drinks that your customers aren’t buying.
  • Pay attention to the music you play, the furniture you use, the lighting you install and the beers you put on tap; all contribute to the experience you’re selling.
  • When you own a bar, you’re competing with scores of other bars in your area, not to mention restaurants and liquor stores. Pay attention to what others are doing; your liquor sales representatives are a good source of information, as they probably call on other bars in your area.
  • Successful bars and nightclubs know who their customers are and what their customers want well before they open. Find out who you can best cater to by researching local demographics as well as current alcohol and lifestyle trends.
Pros and Cons:

The Pros: 

  • Become your own boss
  • It will also allow people to meet a variety of different and interesting people and can become a social hot-spot for all kinds of different events in the community.

The Cons:

  • Location is an issue. Good locations are expensive. If other bars are near yours, they will naturally try to compete. This might draw customers out of your bar and over to theirs, hurting profits.
  • Some of your patrons will end up drinking more than they can handle. You will have to deal with rowdy patrons, and possibly the police if things get too out of control.
Type of Customers:

You will need to purchase a building big enough to house a bar and have enough area for customers to sit and mingle. How large of an area depends on how big you want the business to be. You could make room for dancing, bands, disk jockeys, or extra pool tables, it’s up to you.

Statistics:

The total number of operating liquor licenses in restaurants and bars exceeds 225,000, and beer and wine licenses double that number.

See IBIS World for the most current information.

 

Resources:

Related Sites:

Bartender.com

NightClub

Wine Business

Courses:

Professional Bar Management Mastery Level Certification

Franchises:

The Franchise Mall

Associations:

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the National Bar and Restaurant Management Association

The American Beverage Licensees (ABL)

The American Liquor License Exchange

Books:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Bar [Paperback]

BUZZ