Opening a bar and grill can be lucrative, but it’s not without challenges.
Here are the nine steps you can take to get started on building your very own bar and grill business.
9 Steps to Launching a New Bar and Grill Business
1. Choose Your Type of Bar and Grill Business
The first step in launching a bar and grill business is to identify the type of bar and grill business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
- A neighborhood bar: A local bar that caters to the surrounding community’s needs.
- An upscale bar and grill: A higher-end establishment that offers a more sophisticated dining experience.
- A sports bar: A bar and grill that shows live sporting events and offers pub fare.
- A themed bar: A bar and grill with a specific theme, such as a country-western bar or a beach-themed bar.
2. Name Your Bar and Grill Business
Give your bar and grill business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your bar and grill business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your bar and grill business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that potential customers will want to visit your establishment.
3. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your bar and grill business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your bar and grill business will determine the taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common bar and grill business structures.
4. Write a Bar and Grill Business Plan
All bar and grill business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team.
Read our article about how to write a bar and grill business plan.
5. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your bar and grill business.
For example, you will need to obtain a liquor license. You should also check with your local zoning office to make sure that there are no zoning restrictions that would prevent you from opening.
You must also register your bar and grill business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. Then, you can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
Read our article about obtaining the proper bar and grill business licenses.
6. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your bar and grill business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your bar and grill business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your bar and grill business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors, and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting a bar and grill business to help you determine if funding is needed.
7. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your bar and grill business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in bar and grill-specific software, such as inventory management software, to help streamline operations.
8. Market Your Bar and Grill Business to Potential Customers
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the bar and grill industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Bar and grill businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Developing a loyalty or rewards program
- Organizing special events or happy hours
- Working with local businesses to promote each other (cross-promote)
- Participating in community events
- Giving away freebies
Read our article about how to market your bar and grill business for more tips.
9. Get New Customers & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential customers.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these customers. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your bar and grill business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your bar and grill business to learn more.
Starting a Bar and Grill Business FAQs
A bar and grill business can be a great way to serve your community and make a good living. If you’re passionate about the food and beverage industry, starting a bar and grill business may be the perfect opportunity.
To start a successful bar and grill business, you need a great location, the right licenses, quality food and drinks, and efficient technology and software. You must also market your business to potential customers and establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs.
Here are some tips for starting a bar and grill business:
- Find the right location.
- Get the necessary licenses and permits.
- Serve quality food and drinks.
- Use efficient technology and software.
- Promote your business to potential customers.
- Give away freebies.
- Establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs.
- Find and train the right people to help you grow your business.
- Participate in community events.
- Get new customers and grow your business.
A simple checklist to use when starting a bar and grill business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Bar and Grill Firm: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to always keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind.
- Name Your Bar and Grill Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Write a Bar and Grill Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Bar and Grill Business to Potential Customers: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Customers & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Opening a bar and grill requires several steps. But, by following the tips provided in this article, you’ll be well on your way to opening your own business and serving up delicious food and drinks to satisfied customers.