When opening a pub or bar, an extensive planning stage is important to ensure success. The business owner must determine location, theme, target demographic, design aesthetics and the kinds of alcohol to be served. Along with these decisions, the owner must handle the logistics of obtaining the liquor and business licenses, build relationships with alcohol vendors, rent or buy pub and kitchen equipment and furniture, advertise, hire staff and manage the business’s day-to-day operations. Opening a pub can be an exciting venture but requires business savvy and management skills to be successful.

Research your target demographic, location, market saturation (how many pubs or bars you will be competing with in the area), financing opportunities, local ordinances, zoning laws and the feasibility of obtaining a liquor license in your area. Determine what kind of company to form (corporation, sole-proprietorship, limited partnership, LLC, etc.) and decide on a name that is appropriate for the type of pub you wish to open.

Create a business plan for your pub. In the business plan will be information such as your business objectives, marketing strategy, target demographic, the name of your bar, the theme, the space and design aesthetics, operating hours and a mission statement (a brief, formal, written statement that outlines the objectives of the business venture). A business plan will help guide you toward your goals when opening the business. Contact a commercial real estate agent and lease or buy a piece of property for your pub. Work with the agent to determine the best solution for your pub’s space requirements. It may save money to buy or lease a bar or pub that is closing or for sale and then re-brand the location, rather than develop property to suit your needs.

Choose a piece of commercial property that has high foot traffic, that is clearly visible from the street and is located in an area where your target demographic lives or works. Check the local ordinances and zoning laws to determine if a business that serves alcohol will be allowed to operate at your chosen location. Depending upon your location, this may entail visiting the county courthouse, city planning department or city zoning offices. Obtain start-up financing through a bank or other lending institution. Depending on how much money you or your partners wish to invest and the cost of the real estate, equipment, supplies, and size of staff, it may be necessary to take out a loan to cover the cost of running the pub until it generates a profit. In order to obtain a business loan, it will be necessary to present your business plan to a loan officer at a lending institution.

Apply for and obtain your business license, seller’s permit (if necessary) and insurance for your commercial property. The business license and seller’s permit can be acquired through your city or county government offices (city hall or business licensing department). Commercial property insurance can be obtained through an insurance broker. Apply for and obtain your liquor license. A liquor license enables your business to lawfully purchase liquor for wholesale prices and then sell alcohol to patrons. A liquor license can be acquired from your state’s liquor authority and will be granted, in part, based on your history and business credentials. The requirements for obtaining a liquor license vary by state, but a good place to start researching how to obtain one is your local city hall. Sign the lease and remodel the property to suit your specific needs. Hire an architect and licensed contractor if you require any modifications to the structure of the building. Hire an interior designer to design the interior of the bar to achieve your desired look and feel.

The theme of the pub and the design aesthetics outlined in your business plan will serve as a guide as design and construction take place. Lease or buy any necessary pub or kitchen equipment, including alcohol stock, glass and silverware, sinks, racks, taps, freezers, ice bins, ice-makers, coffee makers, dishwashers, serving trays, kitchen utensils, point-of-sale systems, cash registers, seating, tables, shelves, refrigeration systems and range tops and ovens. Conduct interviews and hire staff. Staff includes bartenders, waiters, chefs, kitchen staff, security and may include a personal assistant to help with management. Try advertising open positions in the local newspaper and through websites such as Craigslist.org and Monster.com, or obtain the services of an employment agency. Implement your marketing plan and advertise your pub. This may include flyers in the surrounding area, a website, newspaper and magazine ads, or direct mail advertising to the surrounding neighborhood. Ensure that all licensing requirements and city regulations have been obeyed, the pub is staffed and employment paperwork has been filed, the bar is stocked and open the doors of your pub for business.

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