19.4.2022

How to Start a Beer Garden: Pub and Bar Owner Guide

Written by Lauren Valensky

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Are you thinking about opening a beer garden? Well, whether you’re a restaurant owner looking to expand your existing eatery, or an entrepreneur wanting to hop(s) into the beer business for the first time, there are a few things you need to know.

From acquiring appropriate licences to building your beer garden's branding, the list of requirements for opening one of these outdoor establishments is far from pintsized.

Don’t panic, though - we’ve put together a list of simple steps on how to open a beer garden so that you can get ahead in more ways than one. 

What is a beer garden?

A beer garden is a public outdoor space, usually located adjacent to or within a restaurant or bar, where customers can drink and socialise.

The gardens typically feature picnic tables, benches and an extensive selection of beers on tap. Food is often served in these areas, too, making them ideal for hosting events such as happy hours or beer-heavy barbecues.

Now that we've established what a beer garden is, we can start exploring the steps you need to take to create your own.

Take a look at the competition

There’s no better way to get your beer garden ideas brewing than by taking a look at the competition.

Research existing beer gardens in your area, and note which aspects need improving and what makes them successful. What kind of atmosphere have they created? What type of beers do they serve? Are there any special events or promotions that draw in the crowds?

By understanding what’s already out there, you can start to formulate your own unique selling points and work out how you can make your beer garden stand out from the rest.

Plan before you pour

Before you begin,  it’s crucial to have a beer garden business plan in place, to nail down the specifics of your beer garden and see if it would be successful in situ.

While your beer garden's business plan will be specific to your businesses' particular objectives and customer base, the most effective beer garden business plans, however, include some of the following components:

  • An executive summary
  • A description of your beer garden, including its location, concept, target market, and competition
  • A marketing strategy (including branding)
  • Financial projections

Where does your beer garden grow?

One of the key ways to help boost your business from the beginning is finding the perfect location for your beer garden.

Ideally, you want an outdoor space that’s big enough to accommodate a reasonable number of people without feeling too cramped.

You should also consider the surrounding area, and try to pick a spot that’s close to parking, as well as other bars or restaurants since this will help to attract foot traffic.

If you already own a bar or restaurant, you may want to consider using some of your existing outdoor seating areas to create a beer garden. If this isn’t an option, or you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to find and lease a suitable venue.

Acquire appropriate licences and permits

Before you can pour, you’ll need to apply for a liquor license from your government alcohol regulatory agency that allows you to serve alcohol in a public space. The process and requirements for acquiring a liquor license can vary depending on your location, so it’s essential to do your research ahead of time to avoid any surprise costs frothing up.

You should also always check to see if you need any additional permissive papers, e.g. construction permits, for making any changes to the outdoor space.

Decide on a design

A critical factor in the success of any beer garden is its layout and flow. Your beer garden design should create an open and welcoming space that encourages customers to mingle and stay awhile. And, of course, you’ll need to incorporate plenty of seating options and make provisions for temperamental weather.

Both indoor and outdoor beer garden ideas abound, so it’s beneficial to browse through inspiration online or even visit some existing beer gardens to get a feel for what works (and what doesn’t). You can also hire a professional designer to help you create the perfect layout for your space and needs.

Tap into 'on tap'

Your beer garden’s menu is a crucial part of its overall identity, so getting this right from the start is essential. In addition to offering a wide range of beer styles,  you should also consider incorporating some local and seasonal brews into your garden beer bar’s selection.

Your beer list should reflect the overall tone and atmosphere of your garden and appeal to a wide range of customers. If you’re unsure what kinds of beers to offer, consider conducting a customer survey or tasting event. Staying up-to-date with the latest beer trends will also help you attract new customers and keep them coming back for more.

Pour time into promo

Even the best beer gardens can struggle to attract attention without proper promotion.

Putting up flyers and posters in the local area, as well as creating social media accounts and running ads, are great ways to get people through the door. You can also reach out to local bloggers and press for reviews to try and get some free publicity for your beer garden.

Hosting special events and promotions, such as live music nights or happy hour deals, can also help generate word-of-mouth buzz and attract new customers. You’ll also want to make sure your beer garden is included in local event listings and online directories.

Lager than life launch

Making sure your launch brings your beer garden to life is a great way to stay poignant in patrons' minds and drive repeat custom. Your launch event should reflect your beer garden's overall atmosphere and identity. You may want to consider hosting a special themed event, such as an Oktoberfest celebration or a summer solstice party.

Whatever kind of event you choose to host, make sure you promote it widely, both online and offline, far enough in advance to generate excitement. You can also reach out to local media outlets and see if they’d be interested in covering your event. Remember, you can also use your launch to give out freebies, like beer glasses or coasters and to promote any special deals or beer garden offers you’ll be running.

After your launch event, it’s crucial to maintain the momentum by continuing to host regular events and promotions. This will help keep your beer garden top of mind for potential customers and ensure that they keep coming back for more.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to opening a beer garden that’s the toast of the town. 

Craft your beer garden with a pioneering POS system 

Epos Now offers state-of-the-art POS systems for hospitality businesses. We let you choose the tools and insights to help your business achieve its goals. Designed to work as a complete business management system, you can control all vital aspects of your company from one cloud-based system.

  • Review profitability reports based on individual item performance, trending dishes, best and worst sellers, and employee sales.
  • View analyses on profit margin, cash flow, and peak times for better staff scheduling and floorplan management.
  • Access multi-award-winning inventory management systems that sync online orders with in-house orders. 
  • Table management and booking system integrations available for an optimised service.

If you want to discover more tips for turning pints into profit, we'd love to hear from you!

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