How to Open a Bar

How to Open a Bar. Friends, gathering and laughter -- a party every night of the week! Owning and running a bar demands long days and nights, and you'll most likely give up vacations and weekends for a good long time. The upside is good times; the downside is taxes and boisterous customers. With lots of planning and even more desire, you can build a financially sound, successful enterprise.

Decide what kind of bar you want to open. Bars vary from neighborhood pubs, sports bars, or specialty like martini bars. You could open a winery or a club with dancing and nightly entertainment.

Investigate the general demographic of the bar's proposed location. Determine the direction you'd like to take the business as you learn more about your customers.

Subscribe to niche publications to keep up with the latest in the bar business. Beer and wine wholesalers keep records of how their product lines fit the local market. Suppliers will be happy to help you: if you do well, they'll profit too.

Find out about other bars in the area of your proposed location. Login to local message boards to learn where people go, what's hot, what works and what doesn't. Contact the Lifestyle editors of the local newspaper and magazines. They can give insight into the successful bars in your area, and clues why others did not succeed.

Find the perfect location. Target a certain neighborhood or part of town, find a setting that is convenient with ample parking.

Choose a name for your bar. Be sure to pick a name that supports your customer's expectations. You probably wouldn't want to call an Irish-themed pub "DelGado's," nor would you call your place "Jazz Central" if you plan to feature only local rock bands.

Write a business plan. Put a business plan together that challenges you and brings home the reality of everything that's involved in running a bar. Project the costs for build-up and opening expenses, fixtures, furniture and equipment. Use a good template that will walk you through the different sections of a business plan, asking the right questions as you go.

Check into investors. Speak with an investment broker once you have a solid business plan, you may be eligible for a Small Business Loan.


  • If you're not an experienced restaurateur, partner with someone who is. Investors are more attracted to business plans that include seasoned professionals with a proven track record. If you don't have a lot of experience, take business classes and check the offerings at local universities for programs in Restaurant Management. Find a job tending bar a few nights a week. The local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Association can give you information about the marital status, income levels, age, gender and political and religious affiliation of your target market.


  • Bar businesses fail due to the lack of capital and/or the lack of knowledge and experience. You need both deep pockets and business expertise to open and run a successful bar. Check the availability of beer and liquor licenses in the area where you want to open your bar. You don't get a liquor license simply by requesting one.

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