Have you ever dreamed of owning a bar?
Maybe you’ve been to outstanding bars and restaurants in the past and you wish to replicate their service, offerings and atmosphere. Or perhaps your dismal experiences have led you to think, “I could do better than this, and I’d love the challenge!”
People and partners open bars around the world all the time. Your best bet for making sure your eatery thrives is to get all the information you can on how to open a bar before diving right in. To help you understand everything from training your restaurant staff to gathering marketing ideas for your bar, we’ve developed this “How to Open a Bar” game plan.
This is where we show you how to take your self-pour idea from “idea” to solid action plan to reality; in as direct a line as possible. Over the years PourMyBeer has helped hundreds of people go through this process to create profitable businesses, bringing their dreams and creativity to fruition. We have distilled this knowledge, bringing it together in one place for you to access easily and act upon.
As a market leader, we feel the need to equip you with the right resources to kick things off right and that is why we have gone ahead and created this university for you.
Understanding the Bar and Restaurant Business
Bars, taprooms, microbreweries and restaurants serve as places where patrons can gather, celebrate special and everyday moments, indulge in new tastes and treat themselves to novel environments. Each type of bar has its own vibe, from laid-back, high-energy sports bars to sleek, upscale bars. No matter which type of bar you want to open, you have to get a better understanding of the steps to opening a bar from beginning to end.
Starting a Restaurant, Taproom or Bar
As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to begin jotting down notes about the bar, restaurant or taproom you’re envisioning. Keep notes on your smartphone and update them every time you’re out at a dining establishment. What do you appreciate and think works? What doesn’t? These observations will help you later when you get into the full-scale planning process. You’ll also want to begin scouting out locations, at least informally. Look for areas of opportunity and pockets where thirsty and hungry people are probably underserved. Doing this type of pre-planning before you start your bigger journey will help you tremendously when you finally jump into the process with both feet.
Understanding the Process From Planning to Profit
What is the basic process to get from an idea to a profitable bar business? At PourMyBeer, we’ve broken down the steps into three levels. The first is what we call the “Undergraduate” level. This level is where you begin to lay out all the nuts and bolts, such as how much capital you’ll need and how you can open a bar in your state and community. It’s also the level where you’re translating your vision into words and numbers. The second level is where you move on to get your “Master’s” degree in learning how to open up your own business. When you’re a “Master’s” level bar owner, you’re gathering all the legal requirements and paperwork necessary to officially open your doors. You’re also jumping into some serious branding and messaging, so it’s a nice mix of creativity and practicality. What’s the final level? The Ph.D., of course! At this stage of the entrepreneurial game, you get the opportunity to perform one final flex of your business-opening muscles before unveiling your hotspot to the public. Each level helps you progress from having that awesome bar concept in your head to actually seeing the “Grand Opening” sign above your doorway.
Understanding Self-Pour Technology
Ready to get started as an Undergraduate? Before moving on, you’ll want to know a little about PourMyBeer and self-pour technology. We didn’t invent the self-pour system, but we’ve perfected the art. Self-serve beer walls allow customers to take charge of how little or how much they pour. They literally do all the work themselves — and appreciate the opportunity to free up your waitstaff! Self-pour walls can be retrofitted to just about any space, and the taps can be filled with beverages from beer and wine to kombucha and sake. Although you don’t have to integrate self-pour technology into your bar or restaurant, you’ll definitely want to explore this trend. Consumers have consistently shown a preference for being able to take control of their food and drink experiences. And since the advent of COVID-19, many people are looking for a way to reduce touchpoints between themselves and servers. In other words, self-pour technology just makes sense, not to mention makes your bar more profitable from the get-go. Excited to get your education in how to open a bar in the most efficient way possible? Keep reading to grab your “degrees.”
Congratulations! You’ve entered the ivy halls of discovering how to open a successful craft beer bar, wine bar business, or restaurant that sells adult beverages. Classes begin right away, so there’s no time to sit back and socialize on campus. Instead, you’ll want to dig into the books and start planning!
What Are the Basic Steps to Planning a Business?
It doesn’t matter what kind of bar you want to open. You’re going to have to go through the basic steps that almost all successful business owners follow. From site visits to design decisions, our curriculum has you covered. Read on to begin developing the framework for your area’s next big bar.
Site visits and inspiration
Writing a business plan is vital to keep you on track. While your business plan may change over time, you’ll need it for a number of reasons. First, it will help you concentrate on what matters most. Think of it like an evolving roadmap. You may end up taking alternate routes, but you’ll always know the final destination.
Secondly, your business plan will help you define any problem areas before they get too big. Maybe you haven’t thought out one aspect of your business plan. Another aspect of it will showcase that it’s lacking, which enables you to go back and make changes.
If you need help coming up with a business plan for your taproom or bar, we have a quick-and-dirty way for you to begin. Just plug in your information and get a custom-ready business plan that’s been used previously by bar business entrepreneurs. It’s a great jumping-off point.
A final reason to have a business plan has to do with capital, as you’ll see in the next section.
You need money to open a bar or restaurant. Unless you’re sitting on a boatload of cash, which would be highly unusual, you’ll probably want to get financing from a bank. You might also want to seek investors for your idea. Regardless, they’ll all want to see a copy of your business plan.
Why do lenders and stakeholders put so much emphasis on a business plan document? They realize that if you’ve gone to the trouble of outlining a plan, you’re serious. Plus, having a well-thought-out business plan in place minimizes their risk of investing in a small business.
How much financing will you need to open your bar? The answer depends on a number of factors, including where your bar will be located, how big the footprint is, whether you’re renting or buying the building, what you intend to serve, and a host of other factors. In some places, you can get away with opening a bar for low six figures. In others, you’ll need quite a bit more to launch your dream.
Again, the actual number depends on your city and state. Get as many real figures as you can to add to your business plan so you understand realistically how much to borrow.
Many of our customers aka PourMyBeer family members take a route of combining all three financing options, so don’t be afraid if that is what you have to as well.
It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: Location, location, location. It’s everything. You could open the most incredible bar in the world, but if the location stinks, you’re not going to stay afloat.
Picking a bar location involves looking at a number of factors, including competing establishments, the area population, the demographics of the region, ease of parking, how safe the location is perceived to be and more. At the end of the day, you want to choose a spot where patrons feel comfortable hanging out for hours and don’t have to work too hard to find your bar.
As a side note, don’t sign on the dotted line before checking out your state’s liquor licensing laws. The last thing you want to do is agree to open a bar in a place where you can’t feasibly get a license because of limits.
Deciding What to Sell
What kinds of drinks do you want to sell, and what kinds of food or nibbles will accompany those drinks?
The good news is that a self-serve beer wall can accommodate a wide range of drinks beyond suds, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. This frees up your bartenders to handle high-level, higher-priced craft concoctions like signature cocktails and liquor shots.
Take the time to outline your starter menu. You can always change it later, but having a fleshed-out version will give you a sense of what your patrons will get when they come to your establishment.
Initial Design Decisions
You may not be an architect, but you probably have a good sense of your target interior design idea after seeing so many other locations. Sketch out some designs and talk with others about the general flow of your bar. Where will people enter? What will they see first? How will they get seated or grab a menu? What’s the atmosphere like?
Waffling between a couple of design concepts? That’s okay. Map out both and compare and contrast. Then, get ready to matriculate to the next stage of opening your bar: Getting to the Master’s level.
Guess what? Your Undergraduate years at “How to Open a Bar” University flew by and you’re now ready to move a quantum leap up to the Master’s level. This is where the rubber meets the road because you have your location, your financing has been secured and your business plan looks pretty solid. Now, you just have to begin putting all the must-dos in place, starting with licensing and permitting.
What Do I Need to Know About Licensing & Permitting?
As much as you may want to skip this step and move right to your Grand Opening, you must get your legal house in order. This means understanding state and local licensing and permit regulations.
Without an up-to-date license or permit, you’re going to end up stalling. And you’ll probably incur some hefty fines, too. Do yourself a favor and go through the proper processes. Just be patient. Getting permits and licenses can take more time than you expect.
Getting a Liquor License
Every state has its own liquor license regulations, which can make it frustrating if you’re new to the bar industry. However, we’ve taken the time and outlined liquor license requirements in many states.
Just remember that some states and communities limit the number of liquor licenses sold per region. This could mean you’ll have to switch your bar location if you’re unable to obtain a liquor license where you want. In other states, you’ll be required to go through several steps to advertise your intention to apply for a liquor license, and may even have to undergo a public hearing. Hiring a legal professional who works in this area may be helpful if you’re having trouble navigating your state’s licensing laws.
Permits for Bars or Restaurants
In addition to getting a liquor license, you’ll also need to obtain permits to sell food and beverages for public and perhaps private functions, as well as permits that cover other aspects of your business.
Some of the many types of permits you can expect to need include resale permits, a food handler’s permit, signage permits and other licenses as needed. Hopefully, you added these restaurant licensing costs to your business plan when you were an Undergraduate. If you didn’t, go back and update your plan so you avoid sticker shock.
Be sure to understand how often you’ll need to renew your permits and licenses and use software like project management portals to remind yourself when the time comes to resubmit documentation or write checks.
Initial Branding & Marketing Decisions
Getting Your Self-Pour Wall Installed
We’re admittedly biased, but we’re pretty sure you’re going to be interested in self-pouring technology. Getting your self-serve beer wall up and running is a streamlined process, and the team at PourMyBeer likes to make the experience positive and satisfying.
When you work with us to establish your self-pour wall, you’ll get the advantage of our years of expertise. You’ll also be able to pick and choose which initial beverages you want to offer, as well as start to see how to design your menu to include the self-pour concept.
Now, you’re just about ready to open. And that means moving on to get your Ph.D. in opening a bar.
Whoa! This has been a big and information-packed section with a lot to take in. Now it’s time to sit back and relax because things are only going to get easier and more rewarding from here. Just wait when you see those first customers coming in with those huge self-pour smiles on, taking pictures of your impressive self-pour set up!
You’ve earned your Undergraduate, breezed through your Master’s, and have landed in Ph.D. territory. You’re “this close” to being an expert. All you need now is to put the finishing touches on your bar or restaurant business, and then let happy patrons flood through your doors.
How to Successfully Operate a Bar or Restaurant
Successfully operating a bar or restaurant means more than just taking a wait-and-see approach. You have to plan for the restaurant to do well, and that means making and hitting specific goals. If you’ve never run this type of fast-paced entity before, you might be overwhelmed at first. However, setting goals isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Fireside Chat Center
PourMyBeer has been hosting Fireside Chats with industry professionals and self-pour operators. During these chats, we asked the operators various about how they’ve found success, simplified their operations, and created buzz around their establishment. We spoke to operators from different venue types to provide the most informative and insightful content for you. In each of these chats, you’ll learn something different. The advice given from each of these operators will help you simply your operations and make them more successful.
Establishing Goals and KPIs
Goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) are your friends when it comes to owning a business like a bar or taproom. Plan to gather data from the day you open, such as how many people you served, average spending per person, which items the patrons purchased, and more. Collect as many data points as you can, and use high-quality bar or restaurant software to help you capture data points.
Very soon, you’ll start to see patterns, such as when waves of people tend to come in versus when your bar only has a couple of customers. Use this information to help guide your goals and next steps.
For example, let’s say you see a lull in activity on Fridays between 6 and 8 in the evening. You might set a goal to improve activity by 50%. You could then develop measurable KPIs to support those goals, such as “serve 20 more customers than usual every Friday at 6, and 25 more customers than usual every Friday at 7.” Then, you just need to figure out how to make those KPIs come to fruition, such as with special coupons targeted through your Google or Facebook ads.
You should never run out of goals for your business. In fact, you might have more goals than you expect. Just make sure you don’t bite off too much at one time. Having a few major goals in the pipeline is more than enough, particularly if you’re just starting.
Hiring and Training Restaurant Staff
You can’t be at your bar or restaurant 24/7. Make sure you have well-trained staff and managers who understand how to keep operations — and drinks! — flowing.
Investing in training is one of the smartest things you can do for your business. Educated staffers will feel empowered to make smart decisions and know how to treat your customers right. Make sure your training encompasses everything from problem-solving to what your staff should wear to work.
To stay in compliance with state and federal employment and training regulations, be sure to check with a human resources specialist. You don’t want to unknowingly violate any laws when it comes to hiring or letting people go.
Maintenance of Your Beverage Wall
Now that your beverage wall is installed and customers are enjoying the benefits of self-pour, it’s important to make sure you are properly maintaining it. And we want to help you maintain your wall. With PourMyBeer technology, you get a 3-year replacement warranty because we want to give you the best support possible.
Marketing Your Bar Successfully
As a capstone to your PourMyBeer Ph.D. education, be sure to stay up-to-date with the marketing of your bar. Thoughtful and consistent marketing helps increase restaurant profits, build a loyal customer base and establish strong branding.
Over time, be sure to investigate the marketing ideas for bars and restaurants being used by your competitors and other establishments around the globe. You can learn a lot by checking out bar-related news now and then. Be sure to visit other bars’ websites, too, for marketing and onsite event inspiration.
- How Can Untappd Boost Your Beverage Sales?
- How to Updated beers in Untappd
In 2018, PourMyBeer integrated with Untappd because our team strongly believed that our self-tap technology and screens, combined with Untappd’s powerful product database, would yield a service model guaranteed to make your beverage sales skyrocket. With the success we’ve seen with dozens of our customers already, we know that PourMyBeer’s Untappd integration is a powerful tool for boosting any establishment’s beverage sales. With this said, even if your bar or restaurant does not include self-pour, Untappd can still be a very powerful tool for increasing your foot traffic, thus boosting your beverage sales.
So how hard is it to open a bar? At this point, you should be feeling confident in your abilities and that you know how to open a bar. All you need now is a dream — and maybe a little more information about self-serve beer wall technology. Contact us today for a free quote, even if you’re in the earliest planning stages. It’s never too early to start determining which features will set your establishment apart.
Keep checking back as this page is regularly updated with new content!
Here When You Need Us
If you’re looking for any resources on how to navigate this new normal, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center below. As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com!