Starting a Market Venue
A Bar Business Plan
Starting a Bar And Grill
a bar business but afraid to start? This bar business plan is a confidence
all the bull. Being successful starting a bar business requires only three
research of your competitors
your bar concept
your bar in the marketplace
Keshawn and Jim: Starting Their Successful Bar
Keshawn and Jim met in a neighborhood bar in an urban core neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. They bought the bar four years ago when it was failing.
It had great bones but nothing distinguished it from any other bar.
lightening the walls inside and out with a fresh coat of paint, new tables and
chairs and a large graphic sign (painted by a friend) on the front of the
building, they did something the normal bar owner wouldn’t do.
They put together an informal business plan by themselves. Then they got professional help (see below). They wanted a proven guide to ensure they had an opportunity to be
interviewed them about a year after their purchase, they both felt that they
did not want to be among the 68% of all bars that fail during the first year of
knew they had to work hard, but, at the same time, they wanted to be pointed in
the right direction. Keshawn confided to me that this was the smartest money
they ever spent.
The Road to Bar Profitability
Actually, it was mostly Keshawn (but Jim joined in too)
who did the bar business plan research that enabled both of them today to earn
significant income from their bar.
All bars within one mile of their
location were visited three times.
A different non-beer drink and food (if available) was
purchased in each visit.
- The bartender was engaged in small talk to get a “feel”
for the place. The same for customers. They needed to find out what was liked,
disliked about the bar. Were the drinks/food good; was it consistently
- They made notes about everything: age of customers, how
they were dressed, was their music (and what kind), how the bar was laid out,
was it clean (restrooms too), does the bar staff engage customers in
conversation, what about the interior lighting, the availability of games? Was
the space heated or air conditioned comfortably?
- What food (at what price) is offered? Is it ordinary or
outstanding? Was it hot? What about the service? Is there a specialty of the
house? Are bar snacks available? Is there a charge or were they free?
- Is there a happy hour? When? What are the specials? What
are the most popular drinks and food items.
- Is there anything special about this bar that makes it
different from competitors?
- What’s the décor like? Is it in good repair? What would
you do differently?
- Does the bar seem to fit its neighborhood in terms of food
offered, availability of drink brands and the prices charged?
- Were their women customers?
The All Important Bar Concept
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Now that Keshawn and Jim had gathered competitor info,
they were ready to set their bar business plan concept.
They realized choosing a concept would make or break their
hope for success.
The specific concept they would choose had all to do with
positioning their bar among their competitors.
That is, what will make their bar more attractive to
potential patrons? Or said another way, Keshawn and Jim had to decide what they
would do to differentiate their bar and grill from their competitors.
One ingredient they both agreed on from the start was their bar had to be such that women felt comfortable as customers.
Nationally, bars without women as regular customers, fail over 92% of the time.
The BIG Decision
In the end, they decided against being a specialty bar,
i.e., focusing on one drink specialty like scotch, vodka, bourbon, martinis,
No, their research led them to believe
that being a neighborhood bar incorporating fresh (not frozen) food quality and a small
variety of food choices (8) was going to be their marketing strength.
Their signature dish was a BBQ mixed grill and fries tzatziki.
Did They Live
Happily Ever After?
A couple of months ago I chatted with Jim (over a drink)
at the bar. In looking back at he and Keshawns' first few months, he thought a
bit and emphasized the following as “must-do” advice to potential bar owners.
- If you do not know what makes your competitors successful,
you cannot choose a successful niche for your bar.
- Visiting competitors multiple times was key in putting
together a bar business plan for them. Their plan wasn’t some formal document,
just simply one or two legal pad sheets of paper about each of their
competitors. Collectively, they saw what was working for their competitors and what was not.
- Jim relayed that if they would not of done the research of
their competitors and not made a bar business plan investment, the chance
of them being successful was slim to none. Period. They subscribed for 8 months.
- Jim felt strongly that choosing their neighborhood bar concept was the
absolute key to achieving the success they are having today.
- Currently, Jim and Keshawn are building a website that
they hope will broaden their market appeal and give their small business
I hope that relaying their bar business plan will be
helpful to you.
Thank you for visiting my Bar Business Plan website.
If I may help you in any
way, please just click on my picture above. I never charge for my services and will NEVER sell you anything.
Helpful Professional Resources
Council of the United States
U.S. Small Business Administration
Additional Small Business Ideas