How do I Open a Bar?

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  • Written By: John Lister
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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When thinking about opening a bar, you need to consider the same factors that affect any business. These include guidelines on employing staff, obtaining financing for the business, keeping an eye on cashflow and making sure you keep your accounts in order and pay taxes on time. However, there are several points which would-be bar owners must consider that don’t apply to all types of business.

The most important factor specific to opening a bar are your local laws on selling alcohol. These laws vary widely from country to country and in some cases among different areas such as states,or even counties. As well as taking into account any license you may need to sell alcohol in the first place, you will need to check specific rules about issues such as what days and hours you can open, whether you can sell alcohol for customers to take away and drink elsewhere, and what age of person you can sell alcohol to. Some other points which may vary from location to location are whether the police or local authority have placed any restriction on drinks promotions such as happy hours, whether your customers can drink outside in a garden or terrace, and whether smoking is allowed on the premises.


You will need to consider your staffing issues carefully. It may seem to make financial sense for you and your family members to do most of the work, but this can prove unworkable given how long many bars are open each day. Not only do you need to allow time for administrative work, but working too many hours regularly can affect your health. You should also remember when hiring staff that licensing laws may bar people under a certain age from working in a bar.

Because bars serve drinks, and in some cases food, they are often subject to specific health and safety regulations. These vary from place to place but usually cover both the food and drink that you sell and the way that you prepare and serve it. Remember that you are responsible for checking that the stock you buy is of good enough quality to sell to the public.

If you are planning to have music at your bar, you will need to check which laws affect you both in terms of what music you can play and what royalties you must pay. You may be considering playing a radio, playing recorded music, having a jukebox or having bands play either original music or covers of popular songs. Each of these types of music may require a separate license and could have different cost implications.

There may be some consumer law issues involved in running a bar in your area. For example, you may have to clearly display what sizes you use for selling measures of spirits or wine by the glass. You could also have to follow guidelines for how much head is acceptable when you sell a draft drink such as beer in a fixed measure such as fluid ounces or pints.



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