How to Start a Bar

How to start a bar: costs, full online step-by-step guide to starting a business (09 key steps), types, special features

How to Open a Bar

The cost of opening a bar will be equal to somewhat about $20,000-$100,000. If you still have a strong desire to build your own bar, you may risk getting into business. Besides, opening a bar is much less riskier than setting up a restaurant, because:   

  • fixed assets are smaller (we mean cost of renting a premise and equipment);
  • costs of keeping food fresh are minimal;
  • bar service quality is better supervised due to the small team of employees.

But, first of all, you should examine all the nuances of the business.

Bar is an establishment where alcoholic drinks are sold to be drunk on the premises. Some bars serve either beverages or ready-to-eat food. Bars can be included into restaurant or hotel infrastructure. The last are knows as long bars or hotel lounges.

Types of Bars

According to Food Served

  • a grille bar;
  • a dessert bar
  • a pizza place;
  • a salad bar;
  • a sushi bar;
  • a fruit bar.

According to Beverages Served

  • non-alcoholic bars are establishments where non-alcoholic beverages and appetizers are served;
  • wine bars;
  • cocktail bars;
  • coffeehouses are bars serving beverages, coffee mostly, tea (black and green), juices, sparkling beverages and alcoholic drinks in pair with desserts, as cakes and ice-cream;
  • milkbars are establishments with homemade recipes prevailing on menu, e.g. dishes containing milk ingredients, eggs (omelet), different gruels and bakery.
  • beer bars or beer pubs (a shortening from “pub”, which means “public house”, a place where local citizens communicate) have the same concept as tap houses, but its food range is broader and its prices are higher. Servants are obligatory for these bars. The establishments may be classified on interests.

According to Visitors

  • Biker bars. A biker bar is a place often visited by bikers.
  • Sports bars. A sport bar is an establishment visited by sports fans that go there to watch favourite sports codes and meet other fans.
  • Gay bars. Gay bars are establishments catering on gays and lesbians predominantly, where they can be acquainted and spend time together. The topicality of gay bars, being the centers of gay culture, has decreased a little with the advent of Internet, social networks and law enforcement within LGBT community.
  • Gay-friendly bars. Gay-friendly bars are establishments with gays and lesbians friendly environment but these bars are not gay bars.
  • Cop bars. Cop bars are often visited by cops in their spare time.
  • Veggie bars. Veggie bars are establishments for vegetarians where non-alcoholic beverages only are served.

According to Service Type

  • Bikini pubs are bars with attractive waitress serving visitors topless;
  • Lobby bars are located in the halls of hotels on the first floor;
  • Mobile bars are establishments that can be moved;
  • Office bars suggest catering in office. Bartenders and waiters there serve the office employees only during office hours. When a visitor conducts negotiations a bartender or a waiter take orders first in order not to disturb the negotiators.
  • Servery bars are places where different banquets and celebrations are served on a prepaid basis or paid by cheque.
  • Express bars are establishments with quick serving.

According to Music and Dances

  • Night clubs. Night clubs (or club bars) are recognized as dance bars working in night time with modern fast beat or heavy music..
  • Variete show clubs. Variete show clubs (derives from French “variété”, or music hall) are bars with entertaining music genre popular between 1850-s and 1960-s.
  • Disco clubs. Disco clubs are bars with XX century dance music composed at the beginning of 1970-s.
  • Juke joints. Juke joints are American cheap bars, dancing or roadside tavern with jukeboxes that was often visited by plantation workers.
  • Cocktail lounges. Cocktail lounges are bars with a quiet music and upscale comfort.
  • Dance bars. Dance bars are often called dance halls too.

According to Entertainments Offered

  • video bars or cinema bars are places where movies, videos or video presentations, and so on are shown.
  • pool bars are drinking establishments with pools;
  • strip clubs or striptease bars offer their visitors a show where performers, or stripteasers, undress gradually.

According to Product Range

  • Snack Bars. A snack bar is a small food establishment, buffet, or a tiny café. “Snack ” stands for appetizers, cooked for a bite or for feeding people between meals in English-speaking countries.
  • Tap Houses. A tap house is a small establishment with a standard range of products (tap beer usually, inexpensive non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages – vodka, rum, tequila, no cocktails) where you won’t see any servers. All visitors are served by a bartender only. A sportsbet machine is a feature that distinguishes tap house from a pub bar. Different sports events, as horse racing, dog racing, etc., are shown on TV and bets are taken on premise. The owners may additionally mount billiard tables or slot machines at the bar.
  • Phytobar (derives from Greek word “phyton”, what means “plant”) is a special counter (at a phyto center) where herb teas, extracts, and beverages from herbs are sold. Phytobars are usually opened in pharmacies, health resorts, sports gym of general and special purpose (for playing volleyball, basketball, badminton, bowling, etc.). Phytobars became widely known due to the increased interest to phytotherapy, aversion to synthetic medications having undesirable side effects. The global health arena reveals a tendency to increasing life expectancy, what in its turn causes elderly population growth. These people are sensitive to medications and are extremely liable to chronic diseases. Sometimes phytobars conduct programs on cooking and giving away dishes, which were prepared from natural and organically grown meals. All these dishes are offered as an effective additive to daily eating habits in order to eliminate vitamin, minerals and other useful substances deficiency in organism.

USA Bars Special Features

The USA shows a tendency to legal distinctions between restaurants, bars, and even bars types. Different states and even municipalities have various distinctions.

Beer bars (sometimes called taverns or pubs) are legally restricted to serving beer only, and possibly wine or cider sometimes. Liquor bars are allowed to sell all kind of libation, beginning with beers and ending with strong alcoholic drinks.

A Step-by-Step Guide on Starting a Bar

№1 Choose a Location

The first floor of nonresidential building will do a perfect variant for a bar.

You should pay special attention to public services provisioning and its quality level, check all you rights before signing a lease. Lease period must be long enough to return investments and gain an income. Your premise must be accessible, safety to visitors, and be equipped with parking. Just be oriented on success while evaluating the location size and have ways to enlarge the premise to make new bar ideas to reality.

№2 Look for the Right Area

It is very important to choose your potential visitors. You should carefully examine buildings, parked cars, offices and companies located in the district. Check what kinds of people pass your location in the morning and in the evening. Calculate the prevailing age category of passers-by, their way of dressing. Examine you future nearby competitors.

The better you determine your target audience – its income, social status, a field of interest and preferring, the easier you will develop the bar theme.

№3 Choose a Theme for Your Bar

Everything plays roles: interior, bar product range, music, personnel uniforms, and even the place’s name. This requires additional efforts. The name must speak to the audience you are trying to attract, it must say them that the establishment is quite affordable for them.

Knowing the potential visitors’ income can help in planning an average ticket, suitable product ranges, prices and interior costs.

It is very important to build up your own bar’s special features, or so-called tidbits.

№4 Distribute Funds

The startup costs to opening a bar and running it can be divided into 3 groups: capital assets, fixed and related enterprise’s expenses.

You will need money for a premise rent (or purchasing), leasehold improvements, redecoration and interior finishing, bar counter building, furniture, equipment and dinnerware buying.

Moreover, start socking the money away for licenses and permits obtaining and for advertisement.

Be sure to make a libation and foods stocks for the first two weeks of operation, and take care of personnel salary.

№5 Enrich your Economical Knowledgebase

This knowledgebase will allow a novice businessperson estimating his enterprise break even moment, ROI profitability metric and investment’s payback period. You should learn how to evaluate your business activity in a proper way.

№6 Develop the Ultimate Monitoring and Service Strategy

If bar supervising strategy will be poorly developed, the scale of thefts may exceed 50% of returns in some countries. These are cases when a bartender has a small salary but his real incomes are larger than the investor’s ones.

№7 Implementing Salary Payment and Reward Systems

In other words, you must build a pros team that will be ready to work on your conditions. But, the first thing you should do before implementing these systems is to eliminate the most popular labor motivation – the possibility to thieve. Keep in mind that rude personnel are able to frighten away all clientele.

№8 Ways to Increase Bar Sales

At first, personnel must be trained to offer products and sale them. Secondly, press charges if you catch bartender theft or in case he won’t ring drinks up and void. Thirdly, create an attractive product range that contact to customers. Fourthly, stimulate sales via alcohol novelties and exquisite ways of its serving.

№9 Running a Bar

An owner must spend at the bar the sheer number of hours and make sure the things are going into right places, beginning with stock control and ending up with cocktail flavor map developing.

You should contact the suppliers on your own, and negotiate about discounts, develop marketing strategies and control the economical side.

Be sure to think over your administrative staff reward system. Salary plus commission may serve as a perfect tool. In this case, your manager will do his or her best to earn more.


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