Starting a Business

How to Open a Bar in 10 Steps

Written By: Eric Williams
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated November 1, 2023

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a millennial who got a job in consumer services

If you ever thought that being the owner of a bar is an easy job that involves having fun all the time, it means that you didn’t look at it from a business perspective. This doesn’t mean owning a bar is unpleasant, but it’s a lot more complex than you probably imagined. Opening a bar takes a lot of effort, brainstorming, organization, and courage. This article will discuss how to open a bar in ten steps that you should not ignore if you want a successful business.

1. Start planning

Before doing anything else, you should start thinking ahead and developing a solid business plan. You can find lots of templates for specific types of businesses online, or you can simply create your plan. This is a mandatory element to have that should include all the necessary details of your future business. Write down what type of bar you want to open, the location, how big you want it to be, what it will serve, how it will fit in the industry’s current state, legal and financial aspects, and a marketing strategy. 

Your business plan should guide the following steps and keep you safe from straying away from your goal. Moreover, your business plan will help you obtain funding more easily or find investors for your bar because it will show that you know precisely what you will do next. 

2. Find funding

funding is a key factor to open a bar

If you don’t already have the necessary funds to open a bar (which usually costs at least $100,000 depending on multiple factors), you might want to find the money for it. A small business loan from a bank or online lender can be your go-to option. Banks are more traditional, have harsher eligibility requirements, and the actual funding could take a bit more than online lenders. Another advantage is that online lenders usually accept you for a small business loan even if you have a lower than average credit score. Find one that fits your needs, verify its authenticity, and go for it. 

You can also try obtaining a business credit card that will be extremely useful for bar-related expenses. It will allow you to cover small and medium purchases and might even earn you some reward points. 

3. Find the perfect location

Placing your bar in the right area can make or break the deal. Before doing anything else, make sure you know exactly what kind of bar you want. Also, think of what kind of people you want to serve. A good idea can be to enlist the help of a real estate agent for some fresh ideas. You can either rent a location or buy your own.

4. Complete the business registration phase

You cannot have a business without registering it first. The requirements for doing so usually depend on your location. You will also have to pick a business type for your bar. You can go for either sole proprietorship or general partnership. An LLC or a corporate business is also an option but not as popular as the first two, especially for bar businesses.

5. Get the necessary permits and licenses

If you sell alcohol in your bar, you need a lot of permits and licenses for it. You should first obtain a license from the TTB but keep in mind that this entire process can take up to one year. A food seller’s permit and another liquor license will be needed from your state. Never ignore that your bar will be subjected to periodic inspections and that everything should be in tip-top shape. 

6. Don’t forget about the name

The name of your business represents the essential marketing strategy. Make sure that the name will be easy to remember, catchy, and that it ultimately represents your business idea. Besides that, you will need to come up with a name that another business hasn’t taken. If you want to also create a website for your bar, make sure that the domain name hasn’t been used before. 

7. Good suppliers are a must 

If you want happy clients, then you need suitable suppliers. This is the golden rule of bars and restaurants in general. The easiest way to find them is through word of mouth. Ask your fellow bar owners about quality suppliers and contact them. You can also research and find suitable online suppliers that are professional and experienced. 

8. Have a high-quality POS

Before opening your bar, you should first ensure that you have a high-quality point-of-sale system. There are many options to pick from but, again, asking people with more experience than you could help significantly. Keep in mind that a POS doesn’t have to be expensive to do its job well and facilitate payments, sales, and orders. 

9. Think of your bar concept

If you want to take your business to the next level, design your bar with a clear concept. Make it different and attractive for people sick of the same old bars where they go for a drink now and then. Think of what type of atmosphere you want to create, what kind of clients you want to attract, and what they would like to experience. Buy high-quality furniture and equipment and create a story so people will want to return to your bar.

10. Have a good marketing strategy

Last but not least, coming up with a good marketing strategy to promote your business can prove to be one of the most important things you can do. Remember that your bar is not the only one in the country and that your competitors might be better. Use social media channels to attract and keep clients around. Upload professional photos of your location and include snaps of happy clients. Make your menu public, and you fancy cocktails too. Finally, kindly ask customers to leave honest reviews online. 


In conclusion, opening a bar is no easy feat, even if, sometimes, it may seem like it. The steps above are crucial to start your business on the right foot. It’s mandatory not to ignore any of them and to develop of habit of thinking ahead. If you can, enlist the help of a professional or a friend with more business industry experience than you do. This could save you a lot of trouble and wasted time.

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