How to Open a Lounge in New York City

by Robin Raven; Updated September 26, 2017

Millions of businesses start in all boroughs of New York City every year, but only a precious few survive. When someone leaves the city for a year to attend school or for a job, it is usually common for him to find old hangouts have changed ownership or closed down altogether. The city's large population, however, means that he will likely find eager customers from the neighborhood that he situates himself within. That's if he knows the area, the residents and the needs of those who live there.

Explore the city at night. You'll need to know where New York City best comes alive at night. You may find that the most lively areas are frequented by college students. Perhaps you want to go to lower midtown to target more students, but don't forgot that schools are situated all over the city. Generally, only seniors in college are of the legal age to drink so more business owners try to target young professionals on their way out of the university life.

Decide how much of a financial investment the business will require. How much rent is likely to a primary concern, or you'll need to plan to buy or finance a place. Keep in mind the budget for a staff. Most tipped workers are traditionally paid minimum wage by lounge owners. Plan for a sound system if one does not come with the location you acquire. The business plan needs to keep in mind the specific and special aspects of business owners in New York City. The high population means you have many potential customers, but it also means you'll have many competitors.

Come up with a business plan. Explain what you'll do to compete and succeed in New York City. This should address the needs of a nightclub, such as how you will obtain and sustain an alcohol license. The business plan should detail the financial investment you determined in Step 2. It should also project the profit you can make in one year, five years and 10 years. Give an overview of how you plan to make that profit. Detail how you will approach advertising and marketing of your club.

Consult the New York City Small Business Association. You will find a link in our Resources section. Ask the organization for help with anything you are worried about regarding opening your business. Ask for assistance with grants or loans possible through the organization. You should obtain a mentor from the Small Business Association.

Work with your mentor on the planning of the lounge. The mentor you are paired with will likely be someone who successfully opened a lounge in another city, someone who is retired or someone who opened a similar business but will not be in direct competition with you. You can pick his brain, ask any questions and benefit from the hindsight of someone who has more experience -- and success. While all major decisions remain your own, the expert advice can help you along the way.

Find the perfect location for your lounge. It needs to be a place of high traffic in a location central to the nightlife of the city and the young people who can make or break your lounge. You can give it a certain theme as well. Perhaps you desire to create a lounge for the over-40 crowd. You may want to create a nonalcoholic lounge for teenagers and young college students near a university. Most people will want a general crowd and mix of adults for ultimate profit and appeal.

Furnish and decorate your lounge. This should be how you ultimately want the location to look. Fill it with things that will appeal to your target crowd and your own taste.

Obtain the appropriate licenses. You'll find the link in our Resources section for the New York liquor license authority. Plan to have it all in place at least a month before opening to prevent last minute problems.

Plan a great opening for your lounge. This is important to gather interest and excitement. Attract celebrities if possible. Try to hire a guest of honor. Get a great DJ. Do what it takes to cater to the crowd that you want to have in your lounge.

About the Author

Robin Raven was first published in 1998. She has contributed to newspapers, magazines and online publications, including "The Malibu Times," "Act'ionLine" for Friends of Animals, USA Today Travel Tips and the official Melissa Gilbert website. Raven specializes in travel, health, beauty, culture, vegan nutrition, joyful living, arts and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing.

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