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How to Open a Bar With Alcohol and Food: A Simple Guide

With more than 65,000 bars across the United States, some people may worry that this is a market that is already thoroughly saturated.

However, if you’re planning to open a bar you’ll be happy to hear that the annual revenue for these establishments totals over $26 billion! So if you play your cards right, you could make a very nice profit! 

In that case, planning is key and you need to know exactly how to open a bar. Well, then you’ve come to the right place! 

Read on to find out everything you need to do in order to open a successful bar.

Create a Business Plan 

Whether you’re opening a bar or running a nail salon, every business needs a thorough business plan! This is a document in which you plan out everything that you hope to achieve for your bar before you start putting money into it. 

A business plan will help you figure out exactly what you want to achieve and to think about how you can do this within your budget. Your business plan should also include long-term goals for your business. This may include expanding your business or looking for a bigger venue once you reach certain milestones.

Writing a strong business plan will also help you secure financial investments for your bar. It shows potential investors that you are serious about making your business a success.

Register as a Company

Before you start trading, you need to register your company. There are several different types of businesses you can register as. These include: 

  • A sole proprietorship
  • A partnership
  • A corporation
  • A limited liability company (or LLC)

One of our tips for opening a bar is to register as an LLC or corporation. This is a slightly more complex process. However, it means that you don’t take on full liability for the company so you’re protected if something goes wrong.

For example, if someone has an accident in your bar they sue the company instead of you personally. This means that your personal assets are safe from liable cases.

Decide on Your Brand

The branding of your bar is a big decision and will determine a lot about your business. So take the time to figure out what kind of bar you want to run. 

Some questions to think about when opening a bar should include: 

  • What demographic do you want to serve in my bar and how can you appeal to them? 
  • Do you want to present a formal or casual atmosphere? 
  • What pricing strategy are you going to use in your bar and does this suit your target demographic? 
  • What things about your bar will bring customers in (for example, the atmosphere, special meal deals, or sports events)? 

One of the most important things to do once you’ve decided on your brand is to keep this consistent. Your brand should match your business’ marketing, your venue, and your social media presence. This will help customers feel at home when coming into your bar.

Find the Perfect Location

A brilliant venue and location is a deal-breaker for any bar. This is why taking the time to find your venue is one of our top tips for opening a bar.

The venue should suit your brand. It may be that you find somewhere ready-to-go. But, if you have the budget, you could transform a space to suit you. 

You should keep in mind the budget for renting your bar and the utility costs for running it. This will have a big effect on your ability to turn a profit. 

However, the location is just as important as the venue itself. If you find a gorgeous venue but it’s impossible to get to, this creates a new challenge for opening your business. In contrast, a new bar in a busy part of town will get more footfall easily.

Get Your Licenses in Place

Long before you plan on opening, you should get your licenses in place. These include: 

  • Alcohol licenses
  • Licenses to serve food
  • Music licenses
  • Food hygiene regulation inspections

These can take some time to process so make sure you allow plenty of time for them to go through. Opening your bar without the proper licenses is illegal and will stop your business in its tracks.

Get on Top of Your Accounts

Before you open a bar you should also make sure you’re on top of your inventory and accounts systems. This will help you to keep things running smoothly once your up and running. 

There are plenty of great technologies you can use to help with this, such as BevSpot or Avero.

Staying on top of your accounts and inventories will help you to price your products in order to make a decent profit. It will also make doing your taxes at the end of each financial year a lot easier!

Put a Team Together

When it comes to what you need to know about opening a bar, you don’t have to do everything on your own. Getting a great team in place around you will make the job ten times easier. 

Finding a brilliant bar manager and chef to run your kitchen will immediately give you more support. They’ll be able to help you plan menus and to find experienced staff before your bar opens.

You may also want to use technology, such as a restaurant ordering system, to run your restaurant more efficiently. If you do, make sure you allow your staff plenty of time to get used to a new system before you open.

If you’re using social media accounts, it’s also a good idea to get help from someone with marketing experience. This might cost you a little more but it will ensure that your marketing makes an impact. When you’re opening a new bar, this is an investment worth making!

How to Open a Bar Has Never Been More Simple!

As you can see, when it comes to how to open a bar, planning ahead will ensure you’re ready for success.

For more help getting your bar business up and running, check out our handy business plan templates. These will help you get everything in place for opening up a successful business!