8.3.2021

How much does it cost to open a bar and how to fund it

Written by Kadence Edmonds

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Before opening a bar, any prospective owner will want to know one thing: how much is it going to cost? Sadly, there’s no one size fits all answer when it comes to calculating this exact figure. The final total will depend on a range of factors, including concept, space, location, market, staff, and a host of other considerations. 

But despite the variance in costs, there are a number of unavoidable expenses that include:

  • Venue leasing costs - or purchasing costs
  • Liquor Licences and other permits 
  • Design costs for concept
  • Commercial kitchen and restaurant fit-out
  • Furniture, fixtures, glassware and serve ware 
  • Initial food and alcohol expenses
  • Marketing 
  • Insurance and other policies
  • Uniforms and apparel 
  • POS software and hardware 
  • Professional fees 
  • Opening Payroll and staff costs

You will also encounter numerous running costs: 

  • Suppliers 
  • Wages
  • Rent
  • Loan Repayments 
  • Utility Bills 
  • Taxes 

Some factors that impact overall opening costs 

Type of bar

The type of bar you’re opening will heavily influence the size needed for your venue and the fit-out costs. Below are a few different types of bars for your consideration:

Cocktail Bar: These types of bars are known for exquisitely crafted cocktails and are an incredibly popular option. The common elements of cocktail bars are generally smaller spaces, higher-quality spirits, and ambient fit-outs. An exclusive vibe is created by the limiting of seats and a very selective wine list. While opening this type of bar can result in a cheaper lease, the interior design quirks and top-shelf liquor can raise costs. 

Sports Bar: Sports bars are suited to the densely populated parts of metropolis areas. They are well-suited for larger groups of people who want to catch a game, or simply just hang out. Beer is generally the alcoholic beverage of choice at sports bars and snack foods such as wings are a great accompaniment. Costs are usually centred around the space - as sizing makes a big difference - as well as the entertainment features, including TVs, gaming, pool tables and cable licences. 

Nightclub: Night clubs can be the most expensive type of bar to open. Since they’re generally centred around nighttime entertainment, including live music, DJs and dancing, the space needs to be big enough to accommodate large groups. A large portion of your budget will also be spent on decor, lighting, audio and the employees that will be needed

Pub: Most towns will have a pub. A pub is more of a no-frills establishment that focuses on simplicity and providing guests with more affordable options. The costs with pub startups are generally more spent on getting the right space and acquiring comfortable seating.

Mezze/Wine Bar: These types of bars are more elegant and are centred around offering extensive wine lists, small food plates and limited seating. Alongside decor costs, staffing will make up a large portion of the budgets of wine bars due to the speciality requirements. 

Staff

Staffing costs will vary depending on the type of bar, the positions you need to hire for, and the size of your venue.  

The first important role to consider is a bar manager. While some business owners will opt to take this position themselves, others may look to hire an experienced individual that can help to drive the bar’s success.  

When hiring a bar manager, it is important to hire based on experience in the hospitality industry, particularly in the same type of bar you are opening. That experience will ensure your bar is run efficiently with a manager who understands successful inventory management.

Beyond the bar manager, you will also need to hire bartenders and supervisors. If you plan on serving food, then you will also need to hire kitchen staff to prepare, cook and serve. 

If you're opening a speciality bar, like a cocktail bar or wine bar, then you may require additional staff roles like mixologists and sommeliers.  

Location

The location plays a large role in the cost of your venue. Choosing the perfect location for your bar can be the difference between success and failure.

Factors that can impact the cost of your location:  

  • Size of the space
  • The actual location - for example beachside, main street, three blocks back from the main street, country or city
  • The real estate that surrounds the venue
  • Current fit-out or included amenities
  • Renovation status
  • Leasing vs buying 

The costs will vary wildly depending on the above factors, so it’s crucial to forecast potential expenses involved and develop a budget to suit. Budgeting will help you to invest strategically in the important elements up front and upgrade others when you’re more established. If you’re looking for more tips to choosing the perfect location for your bar, check here.

Design and fit-out

The overall design and fit-out of your venue will play a large role in the initial cost of opening a bar.  Depending on the type of bar you are opening, you may be able to design it yourself, but if you are going for a contemporary, luxurious wine bar then you may need to seek assistance from an interior designer.  

Other factors that can vary the costs involved with fit-out include:

  • Size of the venue 
  • Type of bar you’re opening 
  • Design requirements
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Seating and lounges
  • Serveware 

Technology 

The technology you choose to invest in when you're in the stages of opening a bar can be one of the biggest challenges. Bars require powerful technology solutions that save time, manage inventory and streamline daily operations.  

Additionally, due to their fast-paced environments, bars need technology systems that are easy to use and offer integrated payments to help speed up checkout processes.  

Bar POS systems also need to integrate with software platforms like accounting and marketing to help make bar management a breeze. Bar owners also need a point of sale solution that can manage menus, offer tabs, easily split bills, allow for tipping and handle modifiers. 

Marketing

Developing a strong marketing plan is another essential when opening a bar. Without it, your venue will struggle to bring in the number of customers needed to sustain the business. 

The first thing to understand is which marketing channels are available and suit your business style. These can include email campaigns, social media, digital content and paid online marketing.  

It’s important to utilise social media. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help you to build awareness and brand recognition. Additionally, paid social media ads can be a great way to target specific audiences by location.  

Reviews are also an important element of social media marketing and it’s vital that review outlets are monitored.  

How to Fund your Bar

One of the leading causes of business failure is insufficient start-up capital. So if you can’t afford to finance the venture on your own there are a number of finance options that are worth considering.  

Traditional loans 

Banks are the most conservative finance option when it comes to opening a restaurant. To secure a bank loan make sure your business plan clearly outlines future projections.  

Alternative loans

If you can’t secure a loan through the big banks, you may be able to use an alternative lender.  

Venture capital 

Venture Capital firms offer funds to startups that have high growth potential. VC is attractive to new companies with limited operating history, that are too small to raise capital, or that have not been able to secure a bank loan.  

Angel investors 

An Angel investor is an individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for ownership equity.  

Crowdfunding 

Surprisingly this avenue is gaining popularity. With platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter you can incentivise the public to invest in your venture by offering rewards such as restaurant vouchers for when you open.  

Equipment financing

Equipment purchases for restaurants can take up a large portion of the budget. This is where specialised equipment financiers can help.  

Open your bar with a POS system built for the hospitality industry

Your Bar POS system is a key part to the success of your business, and quality point of sale software can do far more than just process transactions. With the Epos Now hospitality POS system, you can:

  • Connect with hundreds of business tools to help boost your marketing, customer loyalty, and accounting
  • Accept all kinds of payment types like credit, debit, gift cards, and contactless payments
  • Integrate with an online ordering system like Epos Now Order & Pay so you can process online orders seamlessly. 
  • Manage your business from anywhere on any device with 24/7 cloud access

Contact a consultant to learn more about Epos Now!

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