Reply To: 1st Time Bar Buyer Advise Please



Hi Dardie

I know of a few people locally who have opened bars and restaurants and they are not going well. This is for a couple of reasons and I would suggest you take heed to some basic things.

1. Timing. In one case the owners bought the lease of a bar in the mountains in November. There is no way on this earth that a bar that far away is going to make any kind of profit in the poorest months of the year. I was going to buy a bar in UK and it would only have been worthwhile if we could have gotten iin before a certain date (in our case early december) because unless we got the Xmas rush (which you do not get here) then the finances didnt add up. We could not get the licence hearing in time so we dropped it. Same applies here. You need to tme your entry to give a couple of months get to know you before the season starts, so now is too late.

2. In it for the long term

Assume you will have no customers for a year – can you still keep going. if not dont even think about it. (I am not saying you wont have customers but always plan for the worse case scenario)

3. Be different. Established bars are having difficulty surviving the recession (as mentioned in a previous post 5 local cafes that have been here since well before I came here (8 years ago first time) are now closed, these are Spanish bars run by Spanish people. Mainly they were leased and the owners decided to put the rents up

I work with a local bar playing live music. Some ideas I have had for the owner which seem to be working is to have various theme nights (Black Tie do, masked ball, Indian night etc) these do work eventually but takes time to get known about.

Also one thing he has started doing which gets people in the door is a free barrel once a week on a Saturday. I think it costs him about €40 for a 40 Litre barrel, but the marketing is pure word of mouth and every Saturday is building up. You cannot spend a better €40 in any advertisement. Once the barrel runs out (usually within an hour, all those people are having a great time and they buy many more beers – and not everyone drinks beer, so your not losing out completely.

If you do put on live music (as a musician I would obviously highly recommend it) be aware the cost of a musician or and is not cheap. A Solo artist starts at around €100 whereas a band can be anything from €300 to €500. Think how many beers you would have to sell at 50% margin to make that back.

How I work (and there may be others around who do this) is I take a percentage of the bar. So if you sell nothing I dont get paid. It also means I have a vested interest in bringing a crowd of drinkers, because the more they drink the more I get paid.

If you are buying a bar near or on the beach, then why not go out on the beach with a cool box (permission permitting of course) and offer refreshments to people sunbathing. No one does it here (well not until now I may do it myself in Summer) and when they buy a refreshment give them a ticket with a 2 for 1 offer so they come to your bar when they come off the beach. This does two things

1. Increases your revenues to a market you may not have just now
2. Increases exposure to that same market of your bar

For your first night opening, invite everyone you know and DO NOT CHARGE A PENNY. invite local dignitaries, local press, everyone who can put in a favourable word for you, and entertain them make them feel important, make it the biggest event in the area – once they are in your door they will come back if they like it. Dont under estimate the value of FREE – it is hugely powerful

Keep drunks out of your bar. Once they start appearing you will not get decent folk coming in because nothing is more of a turn off than drunks. If someone is drunk (whether unruly or not) ask them to leave. Excercise your right to refusal and be a responsible bar owner

Look around at all the other bars in the area. Are they full? if so why?Also be prepared for very long hours with little reward

Anyway I apologise for the long post but hopefully you can take something from this.

My advice though would be to sit tight for a while. get to know the area before you plunge into a bar. I have been here 6 years and thinking of opening a bar, but right now the timing is not right (well here it isnt anyway)-