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Nowadays, more and more people gather in bars that exude a homey feeling as opposed to fancy restaurants where many feel uncomfortable. There probably isn’t a person who hasn’t thought about how awesome it would be if he or she owned a bar. For most people that idea fades away quickly but for those determined to go through with it, they will have to deal with numerous challenges.

Especially if one’s ideal location is somewhere in Manhattan. You will be faced with the brutal reality – finding an affordable space, getting a liquor license, winning over customers and staying afloat in such a competitive environment where other bars are just a few steps away.

Bearing in mind all the difficulties you’ll face, we’ve put together some tips that will help you get over one hurdle at a time.

#1: Get Experienced First

If all your current experience about running a bar revolves around watching the services of others and complaining about them, don’t even think about opening a bar just yet. If you have the necessary experience, feel free to skip to tip #2.

You need to learn the ropes first – ordering inventory, staff scheduling, dealing with the cash flow, attending to customers – and the best way to do that is to work as a bar manager for a while. That way, the mistakes you’ll make along the way (there certainly will be mistakes) will have to be corrected by someone else and you’ll gain the knowledge of how those mistakes are fixed.

#2: Get the Investors on Board

Chances are you’ll need financial help to acquire the funds necessary to start your endeavour – we’re talking about a six figure taking into account the location. Those funds most likely won’t come from your family and friends but from outside sources through investment opportunities.

To secure those types of funding you need to come up with a business plan that will reflect all the benefits potential investors will have by partnering up with you. This is the crucial stage where you’ll set the tone of your bar. Your bar needs to be innovative, it needs to stand out, steal the customers from your competition and ensure they stay loyal to you.

You need to determine what targeted demographics you want to attract. NYC has a thriving LGBT community and culture, especially Greenwich Village that is a LGBTQ-friendly oasis. With the expansion of the community comes an increased need for places to go out or hang out. Use this knowledge to design your bar to appeal to that demographic, make it hip and happening and soon it’ll become the ‘go to’ place.

#3: Get a Liquor License

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In New York you can get a liquor license without the support of your local community board. Wondering what is a community board? Take a look at the tip #1 again, just to prove a point. A community board is an advisory group appointed  by the NYC government and each borough has one. While the State Liquor Authority has the ultimate power to issue or deny a liquor license, a community board plays an influential advisory role. Therefore it makes sense to win their favor.

There are two basic categories for liquor licenses in New York:

  • Wholesale – gives you the right to manufacture and distribute alcohol. Then you can sell that alcohol to retailers.
  • Retail –  gives you the right to purchase alcohol from suppliers and resell it to consumers.

Applying for a liquor license is a lengthy, complicated process with several legal requirements so it’s essential to seek help from an experienced attorney.

#4: Get Great Staff

The staff will make or break your bar, so focus all your attention on getting the right people on board. Your team needs to act as a family unit and trust needs to be built from the very start. Great quality services is what will keep people coming back to your bar. In order to provide such a service, your employees have to be happy. Create an inspiring work environment, nurture the relationships among your staff and reward them accordingly.

#5: Get Great Customers

The end goal of all this hard work is to have people coming to your establishment day in, day out. Even if you’ve done all the things listed above to the T, this might not happen. Think of your targeted customers, what they might find interesting. Become known for your special events. You could, for example, organize an educational health seminar on how PlushCare offers PrEP medication that helps to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected or you could organize an assertive class that will benefit the growth of your customers.

Make your bar relevant, put your soul in it, have your staff reflect the same and you’ll see success not just financially.