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In 2019, there were 62,600 registered bars in the U.S.
Perhaps you love the fast-paced atmosphere, meeting new people, and mixing colorful cocktails. Then there’s nothing better than opening your own bar where you have control over its design, marketing, and the menu.
If you’re unsure how to open a bar, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for everything you need to know.
Choose a Concept
One of the first steps to opening a bar is creating a concept behind your dream establishment. This means the general ideas about the type of bar you want to open.
Next, create a brand that encompasses the identity and mission of your business. Concept and brand should go hand-in-hand from how you serve customers to your decor.
For instance, if you’re a sports bar you’d have casually dressed servers and offer jugs of beers for customers watching the game.
In this stage, choose a name and logo that reflects your brand. Take time brainstorming because the name will be on marketing materials and staff uniforms. The best names are unique, short, and catchy.
Once you’ve chosen a name, trademark it so it can’t be used by other businesses.
Set up Your Business Structure
A key part of opening a bar is making your business an LLC or a corporation to avoid personal liability. For instance, if someone falls in your bar then they’ll sue you as a business rather than accessing your personal assets.
You must also detail a business plan, useful when you reach out to investors, and apply for loans. It should include a company overview, management details, and market analysis so you know how your business will operate.
Find a Great Location
Before you decide how to open your own bar, find the perfect location. There are many aspects to consider like your target demographic, visibility, and nearby competitors.
If you’re unsure how to know your target audience, look at the style of your dream bar. Is it formal? Casual? This will reveal what type of customers you’re hoping to appeal to.
You must also consider accessibility and parking. If you’re attracting tourists then parking won’t be an issue as they will take a cab but then they’re unlikely to be repeat customers. Consider these details before signing a lease on a new location.
Apply for a Liquor License
Without a liquor license, you won’t be able to legally sell alcohol which is problematic as a bar owner. Plus, a liquor license also determines the type of alcohol you can serve, and the times or days you can operate.
Before you start a bar, decide whether you want to serve food as you’ll need a food service license to ensure you comply with food safety laws and regulations.
Design Your Bar Layout
Once you’ve found a location, take measurements of the entire space. Sketch the layout so you know where fixtures, equipment, and seating will fit in your new bar.
You don’t need to break the bank when designing your decor. For instance, get upholstered bar furniture and visit thrift stores for vintage ornaments, great for bars with an eclectic style.
It’s time to get supplies so you can open a bar. You’ll need bottle coolers, ice machines, glasswashers, and bar blenders.
Create a menu so you know which garnishes, drink ingredients, and cocktail mixes you need. Consider your bar style including the glassware, napkins, and stirrers that best complement your menu.
Hire the Best Staff
Every bar has different serving needs. For instance, wine bars will want a sommelier on their team to provide exceptional service.
Most bars will have a manager, bartenders, barbacks, services, ID checker, and a host(ess). During the interview process, create a thoughtful training program to outline expectations so employees have a clear understanding of your work culture.
Your staff must understand the signs of intoxication and how to deal with patrons who are too intoxicated. As a bar owner, it’s your responsibility that guests are safe the second they step into your establishment so include this in the training.
Buy a Bar Point-of-Sale System
A point-of-sale system protects you against theft whether it’s by patrons or employees. It’s important to have a system that you can customize to fit with your needs.
Find one that includes handhelds so servers can take customers’ orders, time-based pricing, and preauthorization so bartenders can verify a customer’s credit card is real.
Advertise Your Bar
Once everything is set up, market your bar to generate a buzz. Create a website so customers can find information on your establishment before visiting. Include key information like opening times and make sure it reflects your brand.
Use social media to reach potential customers and share photos of your signature cocktails and advertise any promotions.
Don’t forget about signing up for Google My Business, a free service that displays your bar’s information on Google searches and on Google Maps. Remember to include your website and price ranges.
You can also use your storefront to advertise your business. Passersby will be interested in a change in their neighborhood so hang posters and use sidewalk signs to promote your bar.
Or, host an event to create a buzz. For instance, if you have a wine bar then host a wine tasting evening to attract customers.
That’s How to Open a Bar
Now you know how to open a bar.
It’s important to understand the type of bar you want, your demographic, and how to find the best location. You must apply for licenses, permits, and hire local staff to provide the best service.
Create a marketing strategy to reach new customers and have fun while doing it. Good luck!
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