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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

People who know this industry well have polar opinions on the concept of location. Some owners and experts we talked to put enormous importance on the bar’s location while others refuted its significance altogether. It all depends on what you want your bar to be and what your strengths are as an owner. If you want your bar to get impulsive neighborhood traffic in a particular area, then you should be closest, and most obvious, to them. If you’d rather spend the time and money saved by more affordable real estate to develop your establishment’s concept and create your own buzz and destination, your actual location won’t matter so much.

You should consider factors such as safety, parking, accessibility to customers – even the history of the site – when choosing a location.

Your Bar: The Place to Be

The word “location” can refer to two different things—what area your bar is in (downtown, uptown, suburbs, etc.) and where you are in relation to your customers. Are you on their way home from work? Or do they have to make it a point to get to you?

Michael O’Harro, a National Bar & Restaurant Management Association board member, explains how he took a bar location nobody wanted in Virginia and made it work. “It was in an alley,” he says. “It was a 15-foot-wide alley, and we were 128 feet away from the street. No one would go up the alley—[people] were afraid of it. So the building sat empty for 50 years. But the bar at the end of the alley was spending $20,000 a month in rent, while my rent was $500. I figured I had $19,500 to put toward marketing per month. I made the alley fun and chic. In the alley, I put down Astroturf that I purchased from a football stadium. I had signs, lights and banners. It became the alley. Nobody knew it was there, and then all of a sudden it was the hottest alley in town.”

On the other hand, you can have an incredible spot and still not be successful. For example, if you are lucky enough to have the only sports bar right outside your town’s athletic coliseum, you should be rolling in cash at least during every in-season homestand. But if your staff is stealing from you, operating procedures are badly managed, or your service isn’t up to par, you could quickly find yourself out of business—grade-A location and all.