4 Things to Research Before Opening a Dive Bar

A dive bar is a neighborhood-style establishment where locals gather to drink and socialize. Although some may consider these places to have a bad reputation, the bars are more of a non-pretentious, unglamorous, and low maintenance pub with simple drink selections that cater to regulars. Sure, some places such as Churchill’s in the district of Little Haiti in Miami are successful while also being known for its incredible filth, cheapness, and, at times, hostility. However, dive bar owners will most likely not achieve success by following that approach. Instead, these types of bars are more about creating a relaxed atmosphere that attracts locals with the desire to shoot pool or perform some other simple activity while drinking inexpensive beer. However, before opening a dive bar, make sure that you read up on a few important elements.

Come up with a Cool and Catchy Name

Some of the initial processes in creating a business are vital. The melody of naming a brand or establishment is one of those. For a dive bar, the process of selecting a name is especially important. All entrepreneurs need to select a name for their business and, generally, this is harder than you’d think. The process can end up taking hours of research and thought. One of the reasons that the name is important is because a business is a representation of dreams that are backed up by investment and expectations. This name will also be the first thing that customers experience, and their initial decision is based on your creativity. A name is the business card for a dive bar and will make up a large portion of the first impression. Having a creative and fun name will attract and will help a bar owner position their business in the neighborhood. Customers know dive bars for their originality and creativity; therefore, a bad name is a terrible start and can ruin a business concept before it begins.

Location and Location Details

In business, the advice usually begins with the importance of location. Selecting a place for your bar is important, and its survival will depend on it. Make sure to conduct research on the location and learn as much about the demographics of the area as possible. Part of the research should be visiting other bars in the neighborhood. Purchase food and drinks and make notes about what you like and disliked. These visits should be made in busy and slow times to gauge the differences. Review the techniques that bartenders use to serve, the prices, and the presentation. Keep in mind that a dive bar will require lower prices.

Also, review the type of customers that frequents the bars. Do these individuals represent the demographics of the area? How do these bars operate based on the type of clientele? Do the bars have certain themes? Are the establishments comfortable and attractive to the niche that you want to cater to? Just because you open a new bar does not mean that people will begin frequenting the location. People will need a reason to visit the business, and your job is to communicate that reason. The more that you know about your customers and the more appropriate and aligned that the message is, the higher the likelihood that said message will resonate with the crowd.

Ideally, the location of the new bar should be a high traffic area where the customer that you hope to attract pass by. Sometimes finding a location that was previously a restaurant or a bar is helpful. The concept of dive bar must be ingrained in the decision of the location selection. Be creative and select a theme that is appropriate. The theme of the bar will attract more people than the beer selection. If the dive bar has a beachy Australian feel, you might consider installing plantation shutters from Melbourne to add to that ambience. A cool concept and a welcoming atmosphere will draw customers who feel comfortable in the environment, will stay longer, consume more, and frequent the location.

Liquor Licenses and Zoning Laws

When looking for locations, the first conversation topic should be if the contract will allow the sale of alcohol. Even if you have a liquor license, leasing a location that prohibits the sale of the product is an obvious and immediate deal-breaker. This is a problem with no solution; therefore, move on to the next location in the scouting list. Also, make sure that the location is ideal for the business concept. For example, ensure that the contract allows for the bar to open late. Furthermore, the lease should allow for the tenant to play music and decorate the business as needed.

Make sure to research local zoning laws and understand what is permitted in each area. These laws and codes can restrict the sale of alcohol or food or prohibit music after certain hours. Each state, county, city, and district may have different regulations. Therefore, with the exact address, visit the appropriate government office and ask about all zoning laws and permits. Many locations will simply require an application and a permit that a business applies and pays for. Others will require more in-depth processes, including visits and inspections to ensure safety and compliance. If the bar will sell food, the city will most likely require additional permits and inspections. Owners will need to consider an infrastructure for storing food safely. Consider a commercial walk-in cooler supplier in Lawrence, MI, that meets standards needed for handling food products. Remember that other areas of operating a business also have regulations. For example, businesses that use lift trucks will need to have those items inspected regularly. Be sure to check and fix faulty lift truck forks regularly to avoid accidents.

Research, Buildout and Launch

Dive bar owners need a theme and an understanding of current trends. Talk to other dive bar owners, specifically of places that you frequent and enjoy. They are probably busy individuals so visit during lunch hours and invite them to lunch. If you are not going to open next door and directly compete with the bar, they are probably going to be welcoming in answering questions. Take notes on their advice and visit several times. Learn as much about the bar business as possible, subscribe to industry magazines, and visit industry trade shows. In these, you will find resources and information about all the innovative trends in the bar scene. These will include details on strategies, themes, drinks, news, and technologies to optimize the business.

Armed with this information, you are ready to begin the process of selecting a concept for your business. Gear the selection toward what the customer wants. Decorate based on customer preferences as these will attract customers. The idea is not just to paint the walls a certain color and hang and item in some strategic position. Carefully consider the topic and surround the elements of the bar with the concept. Be creative. Consider perforated tubing for customized and distinctive designs.  Create more than just a drink menu. Create a unique experience that builds the desire for customers to return. While decorating, also consider the infrastructure that the business needs for optimal operation. Give customers an experience, and they will return.

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