Steps to Owning Your Own Bar

Are you interested in opening your own bar? Owning your own bar can be a rewarding and financially successful venture, but be sure you are prepared for the lifestyle switch – five am nights will be your new normal! If you and your family are prepared for these changes, just follow these steps to owning your own bar, and enjoy your new adventure!

  1. Choose Your Bar Type The first thing you need to decide is what type of bar you will be opening:
    1. Neighborhood Bar The most popular type of bar, this is perfect if you want to know your customers by name and host local pool and dart tournaments.
    2. Brewpub or Beer Bar Microbrews are growing in popularity, and it is easier to get a license for a brewpub or beer bar than for a full liquor bar. Startup costs for brewpubs are high because of equipment; beer bars are more affordable.
    3. Sports Bar They generally offer some menu options; every seat must have a view of televisions. Some owners end up spending a large portion of their revenue on keeping current with viewing technology, from big screen TVs to satellites.
    4. Specialty Bar These bars concentrate on one theme or drink, such as Hookah bars or martinis. They generally are small and located in areas that are more sophisticated.
    5. Nightclub Can be anything from a small cocktail lounge to a dance club hot spot frequented by glittering society types. Spend some time researching what type will succeed in your area.
  2. Write Your Business Plan Essential for obtaining funding, a detailed business plan is an overview of the bar you want to open, the local market conditions, and your strategy for success. Include the type of alcohol you will serve, food offerings, startup and ongoing costs, and expected revenue.
  3. Scout Your Location Things to consider when searching for the ideal location:
    1. Neighborhood acceptance – make certain a bar is welcome in the area
    2. Availability of a liquor license at that location
    3. Visibility / Accessibility
    4. Adequate parking
    5. Foot traffic
    6. Demand for your type of bar
  4.  Secure Funding Financing can come from many sources – bank loans, private investors, partners (silent or active), even family. If you lack either business or bar experience, seek a partner who can supply that knowledge
  5.  Apply for a Liquor License This process varies from state to state, and different municipalities have their own requirements. Contact the licensing department at the local city hall to find out the guidelines for your area.
  6. Cover Your Assets There is a lot of liability involved in operating a bar. To protect yourself and your property, you need to:
    1. Form and register your company. Consider filing as a limited liability company.
    2. Obtain insurance- property, liability, liquor liability, and Workers’ Compensation
    3. Apply for all inspections and needed permits
  7. Hire Your Staff Look for experienced staff, especially for your bartender. When your bar gets packed and hectic, you need someone who can remain cool and keep the drinks coming. Test prospects to make sure they are pouring accurate shots. An extra half-ounce on every shot will make a major dent in your bottom line.
  8.  Market Your Bar Let everyone know you are new in town. Advertise with local print and radio, send out flyers, put up a website, and use social marketing to build buzz for your bar. Offer opening deals on location-based services like FourSquare.
  9.  Have a Soft Opening Make sure your bar is at its best when you open for business. Hold a soft opening (open for a night for invited guests, with no fanfare) to iron out any last minute wrinkles.
  10. Hold a Grand Opening A grand opening is the perfect way to introduce your bar to the neighborhood! Go all out – hire a band if you have room, run drink specials, speed tournaments (if you have darts or a pool table), and have fun!

To ensure your bar runs smoothly, choose Pinnacle Hospitality Systems’ POSitouch POS for bars, designed to make bar ownership a breeze! Tabs, including customer name, can be started with the swipe of a customers’ credit card with Pinnacle’s POS for bar management, and it takes just two key strokes to order an item and cash out the check – fastest in the industry. The time and attendance features of Pinnacle’s POSitouch bar POS manage your payroll, and loss prevention features keep your register secure. Contact Pinnacle today at 800-771-7100 to find out all the ways Pinnacle can help your bar succeed!

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