How to Open a Piano Bar. Piano bars are specialty clubs that feature a professional pianist playing popular songs for guests. Some of these bars are loud and cater to younger crowds, while some are smaller with dim lighting and feature romantic tables for two. These bars are becoming more popular for people of all ages.
Come up with a concept. Determine what kind of atmosphere you want to create and think about what you want to offer as far as drinks and food. Decide on a name and register it with your state.
Find a location for your piano bar. Depending on your goals, you can select a small space for more intimate ambiance or a large one for more of a party atmosphere. Check with your city's planning office to find out about any licenses or permits you need. Apply for a liquor license early.
Buy furniture and other decor. You'll need a bar as well as tables and chairs for guests. Get at least one large piano, preferably a baby grand; or get two if you want to have "dueling piano" nights. Paint your walls and install appropriate lighting. You'll also need to buy kitchen appliances; depending on what food items you choose to serve.
Start interviewing staff. Hire at least one full-time pianist and several bartenders, servers and kitchen staff. Finalize your menu and get your kitchen set up. Train any staff as needed. Stock your bar with liquor, beer and wine after the state issues your liquor license.
Promote your new piano bar. If you're in a college town, the more festive piano bar is what you'll want to go for, and you can advertise this in campus newspapers or by distributing fliers around campus. If you want to cater to a more upscale crowd, make business cards to hand out to everyone you know. Take out ads in stylish local magazines and perhaps see if you can put up a nice poster at a country club.
Put up exterior signage to start advertising. Print up coasters and cocktail napkins with your logo on them.
Plan a grand opening celebration. Invite everyone you know and tell them to invite everyone they know. Offer drink specials, or even free drinks, during the party. Make sure to show everyone a good time on opening night.
Consider hosting a karaoke night once a week, if you think you will have customers who will partake in that activity. They can choose a song and the pianist can play the instrumentals while the guest(s) sing into a microphone. Rent your piano bar out for private parties. This can be a great source of income on nights you would normally close the club.
Some states have laws about smoking indoors. For example, some states prohibit smoking if a bar's food sales are greater than 10 percent of total revenue. Think about what your customers will want: eating or smoking. If you think they would prefer smoking (perhaps you can incorporate a cigar lounge into your piano bar), minimize your menu to appetizers only, or don't serve food at all. Don't hire a pianist who doesn't have a diverse background. He must be able to play popular songs on demand, as well as oldies-but-goodies.