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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

What You Can Expect

Successful new bars can be in the black within the first six months, and they can go on to recover their initial investment within three to five years. However, like many new businesses, the statistics for bars aren’t in favor of the startup. Why do they fail? The first reason is they didn’t have enough capital to keep the business going. The second reason is a lack of knowledge about the business.

From a personal perspective, you need to ask yourself if you’re really the type of person who wants to own and run a bar. Of course, you don’t have to run it if you own it, but you’d better make sure you have a team of good, trustworthy managers working for you if you plan to be “hands off.” In the beginning, you will probably have to be greatly involved whether you plan to be an active owner or not. If you’re the kind of person who would rather deal with paperwork or sit in an office where you don’t have to talk to people, this business is not for you. You will need to be out there talking to people and shaking hands. Getting to know your patrons, even if it’s just to say “Hi,” can go a long way for your customer service.

Another thing you should consider is the time commitment and hours of operation. If you’re an early riser, you might not enjoy having to work until 3 or 4 a.m. at your bar. If you have a family, you need to discuss how owning a bar will affect them. Many days you will have to be at your bar from the time you wake up—say, around 10 or 11 a.m. – to the time you go to sleep – say, around 4 or 5 a.m. As you can see, this could take its toll on your family life. Eventually, you’ll probably be able to have a saner schedule, once your managers and staff are well-trained, but it may take six months to a year to reach that point. If this could cause problems for you or your family, you may want to reconsider the idea of owning a bar.

If we haven’t scared you away yet and you’re ready to go for the bottle-in-the-sky dream, read on!

What’s Your Bar Type?

Before you get started on the actual nuts and bolts of creating your dream bar, you have to decide what kind of establishment you’d like to own. Let’s take a trip through the various kinds of bars – from neighborhood bar to large-scale club – and see which one is right for you.

• *Neighborhood bar.* Conceptually, the neighborhood bar is still an American version of the English pub. You’ll find them everywhere in the United States. If you own this kind of place, you can expect to know many of your regular customers. As on the TV show “Cheers,” you may find yourself taking phone messages for customers or cashing their paychecks. It’s because of the friendly “home away from home” atmosphere that neighborhood bars are successful. Some of these pubs open as early as 6 a.m., and they sometimes close earlier than other bars—depending on the clientele. This type of bar is perfect for small-scale entertainment options, such as darts, pool tables, video games and jukeboxes.