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How to Start a Bar/Club

How to Start a Bar/Club

Be the toast of the town, the life of the party--and a successful entrepreneur? Yep. You can have it all when you open a bar.

Entrepreneur Magazine

Friends, laughter, celebrations, entertainment—fun! These are the things that might come to your mind when you think about owning your own bar as you imagine rooms filled with friendly conversation, music and people enjoying themselves. If you’re thinking of opening a sports bar, you might envision an exciting game on big-screen TVs with everyone cheering and having a great time. Owning a bar sounds like the perfect life to many potential entrepreneurs, but it’s not always fun and games behind the scenes.

Owning your own bar/club can mean long hours, meticulous attention to detail, giving up vacations and weekends, and sometimes dealing with unruly customers. But if you have a clear vision, do your homework and learn the ins and outs of the business, it can also translate into a rewarding and financially successful enterprise.

The Stats

Although people still gather to socialize in bars, just as they have for hundreds of years, other factors have come into play for the industry as well. Problems with driving while intoxicated have changed the drinking patterns of people in United States. The growing concern with health and fitness toward the end of the 20th century took its toll on the bar industry. Keeping tabs on this industry requires a look at the alcoholic beverage industry as a whole—what people buy in the store doesn’t differ much from what they buy in a bar. So what’s the status of the modern alcoholic beverage industry?

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), “U.S. spirits sales for 2004 grew 3.1 percent in volume and 5.8 percent in dollars. That translated into 164.2 million 9-liter cases and $14.7 billion in revenue,” David Ozgo, chief economist of DISCUS, reports that 2004 was the second year in a row of a 3 percent-plus increase for the first time in many years. Although it was a steady rise across the board, super-premium products had the biggest jump. Ozgo predicts continued growth, citing the ever-expanding variety of brands that fit all tastes and occasions as a major factor.

The total number of operating liquor licenses in restaurants and bars exceeds 225,000, and beer and wine licenses double that amount. This means you have some pretty tough competition out there. But you’re not just competing with the other bars in your area these days. You’re competing with every entertainment option from which your customers can choose.