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How to Figure Out Your Bar’s Start-Up Costs

Starting a bar is not cheap. Whether you’re taking over an existing bar or building your own from scratch, you need money before you can make money. Many expenses happen only once as you start your venture.

You have to purchase items like bar stools, soda guns, and bar wells before you can open your doors and collect that first dollar. Your costs for getting a bar started vary based on the location you choose, the modifications you make, your construction costs, the glassware you pick out, the size of your location, and so on.

As much as we’d like to give you an idea of how much you actually need to get started, actual costs vary wildly based on what kind of bar you want to run and where you want to run it.

The following list can help you get started with an overview of costs to expect. Make lists of all the items you need and how much you expect them to cost, and then consolidate your list on the worksheet. So under furniture and décor, include the cost of your bar stools, tables, chairs, outdoor seating, any furniture in the break room or your office, and so on.

Range of Costs Final Projection
Deposits with utilities, landlord, and so on
Construction, remodeling, and design costs
Furniture and décor
Signage
Fixtures and equipment
Licenses and permits
Professional, legal, and consultant’s fees
Initial advertising and PR
Starting inventory of goods and supplies
Salaries until doors open
Operating reserve
Other
Total One-Time Start-Up Costs:

Don’t forget: You don’t stop needing money the day you open your doors. When you’re planning for the amount of money you need to get started, plan to include at least three months’ worth of operating expenses. This cushion, called an operating reserve, helps you stay open until your business level picks up.

Failing to have an adequate operating reserve is the failure of many bars and restaurants early in their life span. Don’t become a casualty because you fail to have enough in reserve.

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