Owning and managing a successful bar requires the ability to deliver high-quality drinks in a welcoming and inviting atmosphere. Successful bars and grills understand how to meet their client’s needs, and do so with a positive and optimistic attitude. Unfortunately, owning a bar is not always so simple or easy. In fact, there are many different problems with owning a bar that can lead to legal issues, loss of revenue, and in some cases, even the loss of a liquor license or the business itself. Knowing how to avoid problems with owning a bar can help you to keep your bar up and running for years to come.
1. Lack of Planning
One of the most prevalent problems with owning a bar is a lack of planning or poor planning altogether. Launching a bar requires more than purchasing a property and stocking the location with alcoholic beverage ingredients. When you intend to build a bar and grill, you will also need to consider the following:
- Budgeting: You will need to determine where the funding for your bar and grill will come from and whether or not your business will require loans. Additionally, you will need to consider the staff you will employ, payroll, taxes, and other fees that are commonly associated with maintaining a bar and grill in your location.
- Layout and design: Choosing the right layout and design for your bar and grill can have a significant impact on how your business is perceived by the public. Ensuring adequate seating along with a welcoming environment will help your bar and grill to attract new patrons.
- Food and drinks: When operating a bar, managing food and drink inventory is an integral part of the business itself. Connecting with local vendors and learning more about acquiring your liquor license before making an investment is key.
2. No Handle on Budgeting and Finances
Most problems with owning a bar stem from poor budgeting and financial management. Budgeting and finances are extremely important aspects of owning any business, especially a dining or drinking establishment. In order to operate a successful bar and grill, you will need to become familiar with the ins and outs of traditional business operations. Immersing yourself in the world of bar and grill ownership is also highly recommended. Visiting networking events and conferences regarding bar and grill management can also help to expedite your learning curve when entering the industry for the first time.
Budgeting a bar and grill will require you to keep track of the following:
- Utilities and mortgage/rent payments: You will need to ensure you have adequate funds to maintain ownership or rights to the bar and grill property you invest in. You will also need to pay for utilities such as water, electricity, and even waste pickup.
- Food and drink inventory: Stocking fresh and frozen ingredients regularly along with any drinks and mixers you require should also be calculated ahead of time. This is especially important if you are just getting started and stocking your bar and grill for the first time.
- Employee salaries: Keep in mind that you will need to hire a cook, waitresses, and bartenders to help maintain your bar and grill. Not only will you need to pay the employees their earnings, but you will also be responsible for additional payroll taxes and fees for each individual you hire.
- Licensing and fees: All bars operating in the United States require a liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages. Depending on the location of your bar and grill, you may also need to apply for additional licenses in order to maintain operations.
3. Improper Licensing
You may run into problems with owning a bar if you are not properly licensed. Anyone who owns or operates a bar in the USA is required to apply for and obtain a liquor license if the establishment they represent serves alcohol. Additionally, you may be required to apply for additional licenses and/or permits to operate your business. This will vary based on your current location and any requirements that are specific to your region.
4. Poor Food and Drink Inventory
Maintaining your food and drink inventory is one of the most important aspects of keeping your bar and grill open for business. If your establishment is continuously lacking in ingredients or drink offerings, you may risk losing future potential business.
Developing business relationships with local providers and food inventory providers is key to long-term success in the food and drink industry. If you are considering the option of importing particular ingredients to complete your menu, you may need to work for a shipping company alongside the food inventory provider of your choice.
5. Outdated Interior Design
First impressions are extremely important, especially when you are trying to attract new patrons to your business establishment or your bar and grill. If you want to ensure that your customers are satisfied and keep them coming back for more, consider updating any of the outdated interior design you have in your bar and grill currently. From updating restaurant upholstery to including a brand-new indoor lighting fixture, there are many different ways to go about updating the interior design of any bar and grill.
If you want to get started with interior renovations, consider the budget you have available. Once you have a set budget, keep the following in mind:
- Atmosphere: What type of atmosphere and environment do you want to create for your guests? How does your restaurant feel now without renovations? What areas are lacking?
- Lighting: Lighting, along with the general atmosphere of a bar and grill, can play a pivotal role in how individuals view and perceive your establishment. A new indoor lighting fixture can instantly change the entire environment.
- Seating: Is the seating in your bar and grill adequate? Are there booths, tables, and high tops available? Do you plan to offer outdoor seating during the warm months of the year?
- Walls and flooring: The type of flooring you choose and the walls you have in your bar and grill will help to bring any look you have in mind for the space together. Choosing the right materials and colors for your walls and flooring will have a major impact on its overall design.
6. Poorly Maintained Exterior
Along with an outdated interior, it’s important to consider potential upgrades or updates that would be beneficial to the exterior of your bar and grill. From adding brand-new business signs and LED lights to cleaning or repainting your building’s exterior, there are many different ways to improve your establishment’s appearance from the outside. A poorly maintained exterior of any bar or grill can turn potential patrons away, even if you have renovated the entire interior. Because first impressions matter, keep the curbside appeal of your bar and grill in mind at all times when establishing your business.
7. Potential Legal Issues
One of the many problems with owning a bar can involve legal issues. Legal issues are not uncommon for those who work in the bar and grill industry, especially those who serve alcoholic beverages. From handling arguments and disputes with angry customers to fees and fines associated with liquor licenses, it’s important to understand the industry before venturing into it yourself.
8. Not Working With an Event Planning Company
If you want to minimize the risk of running into problems with owning a bar, working with the right service providers is key. If you intend to host events and live entertainment at your bar and grill, consider hiring an event planning company. Event planning companies specialize in handling events of all sizes. Working with the right event planner is a way to alleviate stress while spending more time ensuring excellent customer service to current patrons and customers.
9. Not Utilizing a Commercial Food Service Cleaning Provider
Cleaning a bar and grill is essential and must be done on a daily basis. When you have an eating establishment that services patrons on a daily basis, keeping the location as clean as possible is essential. Even if you hire employees, cleaning and maintaining a restaurant or a bar and grill can quickly take on a role of its own. Turning to a professional commercial food cleaning service provider is highly recommended, whether you are operating a small local bar or an expanding bar and grill. Commercial food service cleaners are well-versed in working with commercial-grade kitchen equipment, tools, and potent cleaning supplies.
10. Incorrect Commercial Waste Management Service
In addition to working with a commercial food service cleaning provider, it is also advisable to consider hiring a commercial waste management service. Taking care of the garbage and waste in your bar and grill can quickly become tedious and overwhelming, especially if you are lacking in staff or if you are busy with other more pertinent tasks. In order to reduce stress while ensuring your trash is taken care of regularly, connect with local commercial waste management services in your area. Commercial waste management service providers will help to remove any and all trash from your bar and grill during set times and on a regular basis. Keeping your bar and grill clear from trash and waste is imperative for health reasons, especially when you are cooking with raw foods and ingredients each day.
11. Lacking Professional Security Solutions
If you want to minimize your risk of encountering problems with owning a bar, consider professional security solutions. Investing in a commercial security solution or CCTV systems is one of the best ways to maintain your peace of mind when operating your bar and grill. Professional security solutions not only help to offer peace of mind, but they also provide the following advantages:
- Deter potential thieves and burglars: According to the FBI, up to 60% of all prospective burglars or thieves are deterred from choosing a property if security cameras and/or stickers are visible. The mere presence of a potential security system has a profound effect on how criminals assess targets.
- Recorded and stored video footage: Recall video footage instantly to review potentially suspicious behavior. Keep track of patrons and employees to deter theft.
- Night vision: Night vision cameras are also available for those interested in monitoring the exterior of their bar and grill, especially after closing.
12. Lacking an Online Presence
Another one of the most prevalent and growing problems with owning a bar is the lack of an online presence. Many individuals who own bars and grills do not consider the need for an official website or online presence important enough to take action. However, the use of social media marketing, SEO, and an official website can significantly increase foot traffic while also helping a bar and grill to establish itself among the locals. Getting started with an online presence for any local bar and grill is possible by:
- Launching an official website: Launching an official website is one of the best ways to put any bar and grill on the map.
- Use listing services and directories: Adding your bar and grill’s website to listing directories such as Google (for businesses) can also assist those in your local area with finding your establishment
- Create a social media presence: Create pages for your bar and grill using popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Tiktok. Use social media to spread the word about your bar and grill. You can do this with high-quality photos of your food, drinks, and even of patrons enjoying themselves.
- Update regularly: Providing regular content and updates will keep locals interested and followers coming back for more.
Operating a successful bar is possible when you are familiar with the common problems with owning a bar that are most prevalent. When you are able to adequately prepare for potential issues and problems that occur while running your bar, you are less likely to feel overwhelmed or stuck. Having access to the right resources and service providers with a solid plan in place is a great way to begin your venture of owning your very own bar.