The Essential Checklist for Opening a Successful Bar

The Essential Checklist for Opening a Successful Bar

Opening a successful bar may not be as easy as you may think it is, but with this guide, you can make it simpler and help yourself take the necessary steps to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. You need to do market research and get to know with licenses and permits you need to operate without any fear or legal restrictions.

So, let’s look at the important steps to take once you decide opening a successful bar is a great business idea.

How much does it cost?

Many factors will influence the cost of opening a bar, including the location, layout, dimensions, licensing needs, and proper equipment. We cannot tell you the exact price you will need to prepare for, but some rough estimates are between $100,000 and $800,000.

If you’re going with a wine bar or microbrewery, the cost will usually be lower, but if you want to open a bar where you will need liquor licenses, then expect this cost to be much higher, as these licenses are usually more expensive and complicated to get. 

Choose a name

This one may be a more creative and fun thing to consider, so try to come up with a creative and memorable name that will attract more customers. Don’t use lengthy, complicated names. Your bar’s name will appear on many promotional materials, websites, and social media platforms, so it must be catchy and funny.

Now, one serious thing to consider is the trademark. You don’t want to get into some legal trouble because you have chosen a name someone else already uses, as they have the right to sue you for copyrights. Also, you don’t want your unique bar name to get stolen, so you should trademark it. Talk with an attorney who can advise you on the proper steps to take to make sure your bar’s name is safe.

Write a business plan

Any business, no matter the specialty, needs a business plan if it wants to operate successfully. It is all about careful preparation and including the things you need to operate in compliance with laws and regulations, no matter if you want to open a coffee shop, a bar, or a restaurant.

A business plan can help you better organize your budget and find possible investors, as they will perceive you as a more serious business if you have a solid plan to show them. This plan should include your bar’s concept, market research, competitors, financial forecasts, and any other important aspect of your job. 

Get the necessary permits

You must get all necessary permits and licenses if you want to legally operate your bar. You surely don’t want to have legal problems and risk your business being shut down because it doesn’t comply with the necessary regulations.

For example, if you operate your bar in California, you will need California RBS Certification to make sure you cover all necessary aspects, from the legal drinking age to the responsibilities of serving your products responsibly.

Also, you should get an Employer Identification Number, and you can apply for it at the IRS. Be extra careful about getting these licenses, as you don’t want to put your bar at risk because of carelessness. If you want to serve food at your bar, you will also need a Food service license, and you should contact the Public Health Department to let you know how to get this. 

Prepare your bar’s layout

This step requires your careful attention and creativity. Design the inside of your bar so that it is visually appealing and practical. For example, the entry sets the tone and lets your visitors feel the vibe of the place, so you should design it in the best way possible.

Think about the decor’s cohesiveness, make sure that every piece of furniture, including tables, chairs, and carpets, complements each other. If this is too much for you, you can hire an interior designer to plan your bar’s layout and choose the furnishings.

You can also get some TVs, pool tables, and other pieces of equipment that will set your bar apart. Don’t forget about the space and electricity constraints, as these are also quite important to make everything work well, and before anything else, be safe.

Buy necessary equipment

Before actually launching your bar, you will need to buy the necessary equipment. You cannot function properly without these things, so make sure you get them from high-quality suppliers, as they can make or break the experience in your restaurant. The following things are necessary to make your bar function smoothly:

  • Crystalware 
  • Blenders, ice bins, spoons, openers, cutting boards, and other necessary kitchen tools
  • Tools for making ice cubes, such as molds and buckets
  • Bar stools and mats
  • Napkins
  • Dishwashers and mixers

Of course, this is just a rough list, and what tools you need depends on your bar’s plan and what you want to serve there.

Create QR code

Customers can easily access your menu by scanning a QR code that they can find on the table. It will only take you a few minutes to create this code and your digital menu, and you can always make changes without much effort. Also, don’t forget to include appealing photos of your products in the menu, as you know, photos speak more than a thousand words.

Train your staff

Your staff is the bloodline of your business, so make sure you find reliable and honest people to work with. Also, find someone who has previous bartending experience, and everything will be much simpler, as they already know how to work efficiently and promote your business in the best way possible.

To sum up, this guide will serve as a good starting point for opening a successful bar. After that, it’s all up to you to decide what you really need and how you want to do your business. Actually, the best ideas will come to your mind once you open the doors of your bar and get to know your customers, their needs, preferences, and suggestions on how to improve your business.

Follow the steps we have listed here, and you will save yourself from many troubles and possible business mistakes. After all, it’s all about your customers, so make sure they are happy and willing to come back to you.


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