Become a Bar Owner: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to own and manage a bar. Learn about the various job duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career as a bar owner.

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Should I Become a Bar Owner?

Bar owners are responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a bar and meeting long-term goals for the establishment. Owners can work hands-on at the bar or delegate responsibilities to a management staff. Like any other business owners, those who run bars may have to deal with issues between staff members or difficult patrons.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bartending
  • Catering and Restaurant Management
  • Chef Training
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Career Requirements

Degree Level Not mandatory; business education common
Degree Field Business, hospitality management or related field
Licensure Liquor license required
Experience Entry-level experience in food and beverage service is common
Key Skills Leadership, managerial, organizational, customer-service and problem-solving skills
Salary (2015) $56,587 (Median salary for restaurant owners)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Entrepreneur Magazine, PayScale.com .

Step 1: Gain Experience

The best way to understand how a bar works is to spend time in one. Even if individuals don't know how to pour drinks, they can get an idea about the pace, lifestyle and mechanics of how the bar works by taking an entry-level position as waitstaff within a restaurant. Individuals hoping to own and manage a bar can use the opportunity to assess the lifestyle to find out if it is a good fit.

Success Tips

  • Build customer service skills. Customer service skills are the types of soft skills that require more practice than training. Aspiring bar owners can learn to effectively serve customers' needs and find the best processes to make customers' happy by practicing those skills as an employee.
  • Learn how to lead. Even owners who hire management will have to step in to inspire staff or delegate responsibility. Individuals can build their leadership skills by showing appreciation of team members, setting a positive example and motivating others.

Step 2: Earn a Degree

Bar owners can improve their chances of success by receiving training in the fundamentals of running a business establishment. With an associate's degree in hospitality management, students will learn the fundamentals in managing the accounting, marketing and human resources of a food establishment. Individuals pursuing a bachelor's degree in hospitality will take additional general education courses and may also be required to complete an internship. Students earning a bachelor's degree in business administration will also learn business principles in human resources, marketing and accounting.

Success Tip

  • Write a business plan. Business plans can help bar owners forecast the budgets, staffing and inventory necessary to operate at a profit. As aspiring business owners should take courses in marketing, finance and management. They can then modify their business plan based on their new business knowledge.

Step 3: Choose a Location, the Type of Bar, and Choose a Name

Deciding upon a location and style of bar will determine the direction of the bar. These factors will impact the clientele that will frequent the establishment. After settling on a location, determine if buying or leasing the property is the better decision. Other factors, such as history of the location, accessibility and parking should be considered before acquiring the property. Lastly, determine the name of the establishment. The name of a bar gives potential customers an idea of what to expect before they walk in the door, so be sure it upholds the concept of the bar.

Step 4: Obtain an Alcoholic Beverage License

Liquor license laws can vary from one municipality to another. In addition, a bar may need one or more types of licenses depending on the type of alcohol it will sell. Bar owners will have to know the regulations to obtain, and maintain, their liquor license, and they should contact their local alcoholic beverage control board to find out what they have to do to get a liquor license.

Step 5: Hire A Staff and Start Marketing

A staff should be chosen after careful consideration, and should help ensure that the standards of the bar are upheld and carried forward. Management positions should be hired first, then the wait and kitchen staff. The final step left is to begin marketing. While word of mouth is the best means of advertising, promotional events, social media, and traditional print should not be overlooked.

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