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How Much Money Does It Cost To Open A Bar

Updated on December 14, 2008

So You Want To Open Your Own Bar?

There are quite a few guides on the Internet concerning how to open your own bar.  What I have here is a concise compiling of the best pieces from all of those sites, into one great guide to get yourself started.  This certainly won't be the last place you need to look, but it will definitely be a positive step in the right direction. 

Factors Involved

There are a variety of factors that you need to take into account when opening a bar. It seems like such a simple question at first: "How much money does it cost to open a bar?" But it's a really tough thing to estimate if you've never done it.  This guide is here to help you along so you can avoid some really costly mistakes.There are some pretty unavoidable costs that anyone has to pay to get a bar going, which are listed below:

First is Location, Location, Location. So much of a bar's success comes from it's location. If you put a bar in the middle of a school zone you're probably not only going to get little business, but you'll probably be shut down by the PTA of the school. Try to find an area in a relatively decent part of town, preferably where lots of younger people like to hang out. Nothing's better than having people walk by often and stop inside. The cost for this is highly flexible; depending on where you live it can cost anywhere between a $3,000/month rent, or if you want to buy, it can go from $80,000-$120,000 and beyond. Before anything else, make sure that you have a good location in mind for the bar.

Second is Education. You'll certainly need some classes on bartending, entrepreneurialship, and getting loans. This is easy to do by simply doing a google search for local community colleges in your area. Unfortunately, this won't be too cheap; expect to bay around $2,000 for your classes and a semesters worth (2-3 months) of time taking the classes. My personal recommendation would be taking online classes; they're easier and don't require the commute time that more traditional classes require. You will need to take a few college courses before you even begin the process of getting a loan and opening a bar. You should first take a class on bartending. This will teach you the proper way to make drinks and all the tricks of the trade. Then you will need to take a few different business courses. You should be very knowledgeable about your business and this is the best way to get there. Once you have finished this, you can then move onto how much money it will cost to open a bar.

Third is Music. Obviously you're gonna want some pretty good music on. And crappy home speakers are not going to cut it for a serious commercial enterprise like a bar; you're going to need to buy some serious quality sound system. Bose has some fantastic systems for sound that make it go three-dimensional. Nothing will attract customers during a football game like high-quality surround sound. All in all this will probably cost you between $4,000 and $12,00.

On number four, we have the Insurance/Licensing. Unless you plan on running a speakeasy (NOT recommended)., you will need to purchase two licenses: a business license plus a liquor license. Don't forget, it expires every year, so you have to keep renewing it else you run into trouble with the law. .Along with that you will need to have high paying insurance, as things will certainly go wrong at your bar, and when they do you don't want to be in the red. This should cost you no more than $15,000.

The fifth thing you'll be needing is some suitable Equipment. This covers a wide range of items, including glasses, shakers, stools, flooring, bar sets, towels, and any other item of this nature. You can start out with some cheap basics, but even then it's going to cost you a minimum of $30,000, and can potentially cost upwards of $60,000 depending on the quality of the equipment and the size of the bar.

Sixth, you'll need a three month supply of Liquor. This should run you about $15,000 to $25,000. Better to have too much of a certain alcohol than to tell a customer "sorry, we're out". This is a serious expenditure so you really need to make it work.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you'll need people. Employees. Also, you need to be able to keep people. This means either you directly manage them to work efficiently, or hire an assistant manager to direct them around. Employees with no direction will not be productive for you. You should expect on setting aside $8,000 - $12,000 originally just for employee pay. When you're first starting out, you should only have a skeleton crew, just barely enough to get the business running. If your business starts to take hold, then expand, but not until then, lest your business fall flat on it's face.

In conclusion, opening up your own bar is no cheap endeavor. Unless you're already quite wealthy, you'll need to secure a loan, which is hard to come by these days after the economy has collapsed. Nevertheless, the final answer to how much money does it cost to open a bar is:

Total Cost: $180,000 - $250,000, depending on location

Start and Run a Money-Making Bar
Start and Run a Money-Making Bar

This is possibley the best book on starting your own bar ever made!! A must buy for anyone planning on doing it.



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    • profile image

      bobby 3 years ago

      about 2,8000

    • profile image

      Doug 4 years ago

      Want small bar all beverage liq lic in small town in the state of Montana? keno and poker machines. Turn key operation small down and I will carry contract.

    • profile image

      Anna 5 years ago

      I am sorry, but your numbers are WAY off. I am currently in the process of putting together a proposal, and I am looking at $500,000 at the VERY least. This just covers the cost of renovations/zoning, etc... I am also leasing, not buying. The liquor license alone is $130,000.So I will likely need a little more for supplies/décor. This is in a small city/suburb area. We're not talking downtown New York.

    • profile image

      Please help 5 years ago

      Hi, I´m kinda new and I have a simple question :

      How much rent would I pay per month for a bar in agood location with , lets say , 40 square METERS ( Not from US, don´t know what that is in feet) . Please answer

    • profile image

      Sonalisa 5 years ago

      I want to start a pub in Bhubaneswar,Odisha.So,i want to know how much cost is needed and what equipment is required to newly start a pub....Plz suggest me @ my email id-

    • profile image

      blake 5 years ago

      As long as you have a few bags of chips, you can slide right by ol Johnny law. My best friend owns a club and it wasn't cheap for him. But as for a bar, my aunt opened hers for just under 80k good location and all the haps.

    • profile image

      Bartender 5 years ago


      It is Illegal to serve alcohol with out the option on selling food.

    • profile image

      Antonio 5 years ago

      I don't have any money to start a bar / lounge. But I do have a great location and huge potential to make a lot of money and have people really enjoy themselves. It's going to b strictly liqoure no food and Friday Saturday night need to be packed. Do you think it's possible to start it up with $80k ?

    • profile image

      Aljun lampandi 5 years ago

      it's really to start my career right all my friend give me confidents please because this is my Dream

    • profile image

      tim 6 years ago

      way to be roy... i going to try to start up with out a loan your numbers look way better.

    • profile image

      crystal 6 years ago

      i can get building in great location for 28000... how much will it cost me to get it up and running, liqour,music,tvs,tables,chairs..ect...???????????????????????????????????????????????/

    • profile image

      Kim 6 years ago

      So how much money do you really need to invest to start this business?

    • profile image

      Roy 7 years ago

      IDK where you get three month supply or some of your other round noobish numbers... I currently rent an established bar that sees roughly 3,200 sales on a slow week. My sales range from a can of beer to a hardy plate of food served with a 50 soda / 50 liquor. I have seating for 20 including bar side, two pool tables, dart board, two corn hole, 4 48" LCDs, jukebox with 12 speakers, legal on retainer, and a number of other things. Plus 8 staff members not including myself and I started up business over a year ago with a 75k loan. 15k for liquor? what a joke.... I rate this advice an epic fail.

    • profile image

      Pat 7 years ago

      One day.. when i'm out of highschool haha

    • AlanSwenson profile image

      AlanSwenson 7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Excellent... i hope to do this one day

    • profile image

      Brooke! 8 years ago

      I can't wait to start my career in bartending.

      It's always been my dream.


    • Masterman535 profile image

      Masterman535 9 years ago from United States

      I wish you the best of luck!

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 9 years ago from Free and running....

      One of my goals!