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January 14, 2019 6 Pros and Cons of Owning a Bar (+3 Common Myths)

Owning a bar

Ever thought about owning a bar? The industry does have a glamorous reputation: who wouldn’t want to be like Tom Cruise, slinging drinks in Cocktails? Before you dive in, test the waters to see if you’ve got what it takes to rock at owning a bar. Let these 6 pros and cons, plus 3 common myths, guide the way!

Pro: Total Creative License

If you’re the creative type, then owning a bar gives you a chance to explore something new every day. You can create trendy cocktails that will leave your patrons wanting more. Or set up a weekly promo that sets your bar apart from the rest. One of the perks of owning a bar is that you call the shots (literally). You even get to come up with a name for your bar. If you need a little inspiration? Use this bar name generator to instantly reveal one of over 200,000 bar names. You can keep clicking until you find “the one.”

Con: Time Off? What’s That?

The thing about owning a bar is that you’re working when other people are off the clock. That means long nights and weekends…likely even coming in on your days off if there’s an emergency. As for holidays? Well, people tend to drink more when they’re celebrating – especially when it’s a holiday that’s all about indulgence, like Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, or Cinco de Mayo.

But even big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving may mean time behind the bar for you. But look on the bright side of owning a bar during the holidays: You may be working, but those holiday parties and celebrations mean more money in your pocket. Cha-ching!

Pro: More Bang for Your (Inventory) Buck  

When it comes to operating costs, owning a bar tends to be cheaper than running a traditional restaurant (depending on the size of your bar and theme). According to Statista, beer, wine, and liquor make up roughly 80% of the average bar’s sales. Most bars serve a limited menu, so you won’t have to worry as much about food waste. If you’re selling a variety of beer, wine, and cocktails, here’s some good news: those products have some of the highest profit margins of any industry.

Con: Drunk People Can Kill Your Buzz

Obviously, owning a bar means you’re going to be around…drinking patrons. And while it can be fun to help your guests let loose a little, it can easily cross the line from a good time to a liability. That’s why it’s so important that your bartenders take regular training courses, like ServSafe Alcohol or the TIPS® Program. In fact, most states require that you and your staff undergo safe serving training! Your staff will learn best practices to prevent over-pouring and recognize the signs when it’s time to cut someone off. And always have a plan in place for handling a guest who’s definitely over-indulged. Use these 7 tactics for expertly handling drunk customers, and you’ll be good to go when owning a bar.

Con: All That Red Tap

Owning a bar means that you’re in charge of showing your patrons a good time. But with that power comes a lot of responsibility. Because massive amounts of alcohol go hand-in-hand with owning a bar, that means there are many laws you need to know.

It’s up to you as the owner to know all the rules and regulations of serving adult beverages, from the local level to state to federal. Not to mention, you must also follow the same health and food safety regulations as restaurants, even if you only offer a limited food menu.

Even excessive noise could be a liability when owning a bar, so you check your zoning laws. Long story short: Knowing all the legal stuff will take some significant research and it’s best to consult with an attorney on all of the above!

Pro: No Day is the Same  

Despite the other ups and downs of owning a bar, it can be a really fun adventure if you’re game to face the challenges. You get to schmooze with customers, meet new people every day, and will constantly be kept on your toes. This isn’t an industry for someone who craves routine. If you find comfort in the idea of a nine-to-five, owning a bar may not be the best option for you. But if you enjoy being in constant motion, then you may have found the perfect work environment.

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Common Myths of Owning a Bar

Myth #1: “I don’t have to pay for drinks – I own the bar!”

We’ll say it louder for the people in the back: Owning a bar DOES NOT mean free drinks.

Some bar owners make the mistake of turning their business into their hang out spot. And while it’s recommended to socialize with your patrons, there’s a difference between checking on guests and constantly handing out free drinks.

Every shot you take means you’re literally drinking your inventory and money is spilling right out of your pocket. By all means, offer a comped drink every now and then to celebrate with a guest or thank them for coming in – but try to keep it at a minimum to avoid going into the red.

Myth #2: “I’ve been working behind a bar for years. I’m totally ready to own one.”

If you love being a bartender, then it’s a good indication that you may enjoy owning a bar. And yes, the experience does set up a good foundation when starting out. But it’s nowhere near the same level of commitment as actually owning a bar.

When owning a bar, there is so much more you’re in charge of: inventory, payroll, budgeting, marketing, and management. You need to be prepared for all the extra responsibility before you leap into owning a bar.

Myth #3: “I have to do everything in this bar.”

As a bar owner, you are responsible for it all – but that doesn’t mean every task needs to be done by you personally. Part of building an experienced and reliable team is having someone trustworthy who you can delegate tasks to as you enjoy some very much needed time off.

And with integrated technology solutions, like POS systems and inventory trackers, you can streamline some of the more tedious tasks of owning a bar. You can even incorporate digital entertainment solutions, like bar tablets, to keep your guests entertained with real-time trivia and arcade games between rounds. You can even use those bar tablets to host a live trivia night.

Now that you’ve weighed the pros and cons of owning a bar (and debunked those common rumors), it’s time to decide if the title of bar owner is for you. Think you’re up to the challenge? If you feel more inspired than discouraged by this list, it could be a sign that you’re ready to be a bar owner. Bottoms up and best of luck!

Ever thought about owning a bar? The industry does have a glamorous reputation: who wouldn’t want to be like Tom Cruise, slinging drinks in Cocktails? Before you dive in, test the waters to see if you’ve got what it takes to rock at owning a bar. Let these 6 pros and cons, plus 3 common myths, guide the way!

Pro: Total Creative License

If you’re the creative type, then owning a bar gives you a chance to explore something new every day. You can create trendy cocktails that will leave your patrons wanting more. Or set up a weekly promo that sets your bar apart from the rest. One of the perks of owning a bar is that you call the shots (literally). You even get to come up with a name for your bar. If you need a little inspiration? Use this bar name generator to instantly reveal one of over 200,000 bar names. You can keep clicking until you find “the one.”

Con: Time Off? What’s That?

The thing about owning a bar is that you’re working when other people are off the clock. That means long nights and weekends…likely even coming in on your days off if there’s an emergency. As for holidays? Well, people tend to drink more when they’re celebrating – especially when it’s a holiday that’s all about indulgence, like Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, or Cinco de Mayo.

But even big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving may mean time behind the bar for you. But look on the bright side of owning a bar during the holidays: You may be working, but those holiday parties and celebrations mean more money in your pocket. Cha-ching!

Pro: More Bang for Your (Inventory) Buck  

When it comes to operating costs, owning a bar tends to be cheaper than running a traditional restaurant (depending on the size of your bar and theme). According to Statista, beer, wine, and liquor make up roughly 80% of the average bar’s sales. Most bars serve a limited menu, so you won’t have to worry as much about food waste. If you’re selling a variety of beer, wine, and cocktails, here’s some good news: those products have some of the highest profit margins of any industry.

Con: Drunk People Can Kill Your Buzz

Obviously, owning a bar means you’re going to be around…drinking patrons. And while it can be fun to help your guests let loose a little, it can easily cross the line from a good time to a liability. That’s why it’s so important that your bartenders take regular training courses, like ServSafe Alcohol or the TIPS® Program. In fact, most states require that you and your staff undergo safe serving training! Your staff will learn best practices to prevent over-pouring and recognize the signs when it’s time to cut someone off. And always have a plan in place for handling a guest who’s definitely over-indulged. Use these 7 tactics for expertly handling drunk customers, and you’ll be good to go when owning a bar.

Con: All That Red Tap

Owning a bar means that you’re in charge of showing your patrons a good time. But with that power comes a lot of responsibility. Because massive amounts of alcohol go hand-in-hand with owning a bar, that means there are many laws you need to know.

It’s up to you as the owner to know all the rules and regulations of serving adult beverages, from the local level to state to federal. Not to mention, you must also follow the same health and food safety regulations as restaurants, even if you only offer a limited food menu.

Even excessive noise could be a liability when owning a bar, so you check your zoning laws. Long story short: Knowing all the legal stuff will take some significant research and it’s best to consult with an attorney on all of the above!

Pro: No Day is the Same  

Despite the other ups and downs of owning a bar, it can be a really fun adventure if you’re game to face the challenges. You get to schmooze with customers, meet new people every day, and will constantly be kept on your toes. This isn’t an industry for someone who craves routine. If you find comfort in the idea of a nine-to-five, owning a bar may not be the best option for you. But if you enjoy being in constant motion, then you may have found the perfect work environment.

Common Myths of Owning a Bar

Myth #1: “I don’t have to pay for drinks – I own the bar!”

We’ll say it louder for the people in the back: Owning a bar DOES NOT mean free drinks.

Some bar owners make the mistake of turning their business into their hang out spot. And while it’s recommended to socialize with your patrons, there’s a difference between checking on guests and constantly handing out free drinks.

Every shot you take means you’re literally drinking your inventory and money is spilling right out of your pocket. By all means, offer a comped drink every now and then to celebrate with a guest or thank them for coming in – but try to keep it at a minimum to avoid going into the red.

Myth #2: “I’ve been working behind a bar for years. I’m totally ready to own one.”

If you love being a bartender, then it’s a good indication that you may enjoy owning a bar. And yes, the experience does set up a good foundation when starting out. But it’s nowhere near the same level of commitment as actually owning a bar.

When owning a bar, there is so much more you’re in charge of: inventory, payroll, budgeting, marketing, and management. You need to be prepared for all the extra responsibility before you leap into owning a bar.

Myth #3: “I have to do everything in this bar.”

As a bar owner, you are responsible for it all – but that doesn’t mean every task needs to be done by you personally. Part of building an experienced and reliable team is having someone trustworthy who you can delegate tasks to as you enjoy some very much needed time off.

And with integrated technology solutions, like POS systems and inventory trackers, you can streamline some of the more tedious tasks of owning a bar. You can even incorporate digital entertainment solutions, like bar tablets, to keep your guests entertained with real-time trivia and arcade games between rounds. You can even use those bar tablets to host a live trivia night.

Now that you’ve weighed the pros and cons of owning a bar (and debunked those common rumors), it’s time to decide if the title of bar owner is for you. Think you’re up to the challenge? If you feel more inspired than discouraged by this list, it could be a sign that you’re ready to be a bar owner. Bottoms up and best of luck!

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