Opening a Bar: What You Need

How to open a bar

Okay, so most of us have probably seen the TV show Cheers, or if not, we at least probably know what it is. The kinship, laughter, and good times – who wouldn’t want a piece of this? As fun as it seems to be, a lot goes into opening a bar. Here are some tips on figuring out what equipment you need to open a bar.

Figure out your location.

Nowadays, there are several different types of bars. It’s not as simple as it once was. From neighborhood taverns, to fancy nightclubs, to speciality martini bars and microbrew places – the possibilities are endless. But don’t get overwhelmed, first figure out your location. Location can have a big factor in what type of bar you want to open. For example, small-town taverns probably only have a few types of beer to serve their patrons, versus a swanky downtown club will most likely offer a huge selection of speciality drinks and shots. Know your target clientele as well – who lives in your location? What types of drinks are they most likely to want? Knowing these things ahead of time will help you figure out what you want to do.

Know what type of bar you want to open.

So, are you going to keep it simple? Or class it up? Or spark some originality? Once you have your location and clientele figured out, take the next step. Generally speaking, there are a few routes you can take when it comes to types of bars:

  • Neighborhood bar
  • Sports bar
  • Brewery/microbrewery
  • Speciality bar
  • Nightclub

Knowing this up front will help you figure out if you want to cater more toward those craft beer-loving folks, or those who want to dance the night away. Then you can decide what you want to offer and how much of it:

On tap. There’s domestic beers, imported beers, and then all those popular craft brews from small breweries popping everywhere.
Bottles. Similar to what you may want to offer on tap, you can choose any number of domestic, imported, or craft beers to offer in bottles (or cans).
Liquors. Of course, the possibilities are endless. Deciding what types of mixed drinks and speciality shots you’ll offer will probably help you figure out what types of liquor you need beyond the basics.

Now, the equipment.

The big deciding factor in all of this is, of course, how much room you have. One or two taps take significantly less cooler space than a specialty bar that features over a dozen microbrews. So once you know what type of bar you want to open and what beer you want to serve, figure out your space and storage plan.

Coolers and freezers. Walk-in coolers are great for maximum storage space, but they also minimize what products you can store up front, which means frequent trips to the back. Coolers that can neatly fit into the front area of your bar will give bartenders easy access to the products they need. Whether you're serving bottles or cans also affects cooler space, so measure your typical inventory before buying a cooler. Depending on your bar's needs, a reach-in freezer might be a great option to consider as well. It all depends inventory and space – so measure up first!

Here are some cooler/freezer options that Gator Chef offers:

Underbar Sinks. Every bar needs at least one underbar sink. During the height of the hustle and bustle of a busy Saturday night, glasses will need to be washed, rewashed, and used again. An underbar sink provides the easiest way to do so. Again, the amount of space you have will dictate exactly what you have room for in terms of quantity, size, and shape.

Ice machines. Of course, no bar can go without ice. Your ice machines should be conveniently located near the mixed drink area, which means two might be in order if you have a long bar.

Necessary Accessories. There are certain items every bar needs in order to function. These can be simple things such as bar stools to sit on, or glassware to drink out of – whatever the case, the small things really do matter. Here’s a brief list of items you may find necessary when stocking your bar:

Bottoms up!

Think you’re ready to give it a go? Owning a bar can be a tough business, but it can also be one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll have while working. Just remember to plan ahead before making any final purchases!

[ FREE Download ]

Restaurant & Bar Equipment & Smallware Checklist

Want more information? This popular checklist designed by industrial experts outlines the necessary items when opening a new bar or restaurant. To download a free checklist please fill out the form to subscribe to Gator Chef's email list. By subscribing, you will also receive Gator Chef's newsletter about great deals on restaurant and bar supplies, food industry business tips, and more. By using this source (you can always unsubscribe at any time), you’re sure to remember all those basic items you’ll need to open a bar. OPEN RESTAURANT CHECKLIST

(*) Denotes a required field.

Read more restaurant business tips and commercial kitchen equipments reviews at Gator Chef EDU Center. EDU