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In the seminal 1967 hit ‘Alabama Song,’ Jim Morrison pleads:
Show me the way to the next whiskey bar
Oh, don’t ask why
Don’t they serve whiskey in every bar? What kind of bars exists? What’s the most profitable type of bar to open if you’re looking to start a business in the USA?
Read this article to find out.
Craft beer bar
This is not a beginner’s choice. Opening a craft beer joint means brewing your own ale, which takes considerable effort, passion, money and the correct kind of facility.
But if you’ve dabbled in brewing your own beer and fell in love with the process, can you imagine a better way of sharing your love for the drink with the world? The craft beer crowd might be very scrutinous of newcomers, but they always respect a good brew and don’t shy away from paying a pretty penny if they deem it’s worth it.
If you don’t want to sink your hands into brewing, you can join an already existing franchise and enjoy the love of beer without the hassle of creating your own ale.
Is there anything more sophisticated than a glass of rich, deep red wine? The sacred art of winemaking has been passed down for millennia – it’s no wonder that wine is included in rituals in so many religions.
So if you’re an enjoyer of the finer things in life and want to attract a similar clientele, opening a wine bar is a no brainer.
The wine drinking crowd always prefers quality over quantity. A successful wine bar has to have a carefully curated selection of the finest reds, whites and rosés.
That being said, most wineheads will tell you – the way you judge how good a wine region is by how good a bottle you can get for $5. So, while you do want to have very expensive bottles that have sat in cellars for decades, you also want a sturdy, not-so-expensive choice.
Another choice on the ‘classy’ side of the bar spectrum, a whiskey bar will attract the gentlemen. The drink of choice for countless musicians, movie stars and all sorts of other celebrities, a good glass or bottle of whiskey will never go out of style.
Whiskey is brewed all over the world, with the most notable brands hailing from Scotland, the US, Ireland, Canada, and Japan. Each geographically sourced whiskey is unique in preparation, storage, and consequently flavor.
Whiskey bars never go out of fashion because whiskey doesn’t either.
Karaoke literally means ‘empty orchestra’ in Japanese – it’s a chance for everyone to be a singing star, even if they lack the vocal capabilities of Mariah Carey. Karaoke bars will always have walk in business, as well as regulars whose only chance to enact their dream is to sing at your bar.
The best thing about karaoke bars from a business owner’s perspective is that most people need to get at least tipsy in order to take the mic. That means more drinks sold!
Themed bars are quite popular as of late. A steampunk bar, a prohibition-style bar, a holiday themed establishment are all excellent types of locals that attract customers of all shapes and sizes.
You can model your bar like a 1930’s speakeasy for example. Serve liquor in coffee cups, hang pictures from the era, and have an old-timey, honky tonk piano. A circus bar – have clowning paraphernalia on the wall, serve carnival type foods like corn dogs, and have arcade games in the corner.
Creating a gimmick bar is all about being creative and consistent in your decorations and menu choices. Of course, it’s not enough to have a gimmick – you will still need excellent service and hard work to make a successful bar.
What license and documentation do you need to open a bar in the US?
Here’s a list of the paperwork you’ll need to collect to open up a bar in the United States.
- Liquor license
A liquor license is a permit that allows bars to serve alcohol to customers. You will need to go through your state’s liquor control department to get it.
The requirements for obtaining a liquor license vary from state to state. You will need to consult a local lawyer to find out what the requirements are for your particular state.
- Commercial real estate lease
As with any other type of business, a commercial real estate lease is necessary to negotiate the terms and conditions between you and the owner.
- Equipment leases
If you’re renting your bar equipment, such as taps and refrigerators, you will need to sign a lease with the owner. The lease will protect you both in this interaction.
- Different types of personnel contracts
You will need a draft template contract for an employee, as well as an independent contractor. This will speed up the employment process considerably.
You will also need a partnership agreement between you and your partners, in order to make the most important relationships in the enterprise intact and legally sound.
- A contract with your liquor supplier
You will need a steady flow of liquor coming into your establishment – otherwise owning a bar won’t make much sense. A contract with a liquor supplier makes sure of this.
General Liability Insurance will cover on-site customer accidents, worker safety breaches, and damaged property. It will give you financial coverage in case of different sorts of accidents.
Of course, you can always open a run of the mill bar that has no special flavor, theme or gimmick about it. Those work great as well. As long as there is alcohol and someone to serve it, bars will be a lucrative business.
But creating a themed bar gives you a chance to show off your creative side and make a lasting impression on your patrons. In the end, however, no one really remembers the interior of a bar – they remember the stories that were created in it.