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An Informal Bar Business Plan
Starting a Bar And Grill

Considering a bar business but afraid to start?

This informal bar business plan is a confidence builder, aproven way to bar profitability!

Forget all the bull.

Writing a successful informal bar business plan requires only 5 elements:

 1. Through research of your competitors

 2. Determine your bar concept

 3. Market your bar in the marketplace

 4. Write a 3-year budget and have operating capital in reserve

 5. Set uo bar operating systems and controls

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.

After 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 bar business plan by themselves after they got professional help (see below). They wanted a proven guide to follow to ensure they had an opportunity to be successful.

When I interviewed them about a year after their purchase, they both felt that they did not want to be among the 74% of all bars that fail during the first years of operation.

They 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.

The Bar Business Plan

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 delivered.
  • 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? Women must feel respected and safe in the bar they visit. This is a huge "KEY" to bar success.

The All Important Bar Concept

Free Counseling Available:

I have helped entrepreneurs start and grow bars, taverns and restaurants. I do this for Free. I suggest a "Process"  that has worked time and time again.

I then assist you, as you go through it to help you achieve success.

This is not a trick or something else to suck you in to buying something.

Nope, I help folks start any online or offline business as part of my mission to Pay It Forward to thank all the folks that have helped me in my businesses.

If I may assist you, please just click on my photo above.

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, etc.

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 an informal 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.
  • 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 additional credibility.

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

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

U.S. Small Business Administration

Additional Small Business Ideas

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