8 steps to running your own bar

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Need Law Want Officer Five years

Running a bar pub top tips
You've had enough of your boring job and want to own a bar. You've seen a vacant property on the high street of your local town, but don't know where to start. Here are eight top tips to getting the bar up and running.
  1. Can you afford it?​ If it is leasehold (most likely) then can you afford any premium required, if there is one? If you do not have the cash available can you borrow on terms that you could afford to repay?
  2. You need a business plan​ — how big will your bar be, how many customers are likely to use it and over what sort of periods of the day or night? What is your market? Is it high-end cocktails with lots of seating, or more people standing with drinks competitively priced and a slightly younger clientele? 
  3. Will it make money?​ What is your estimate of the sales of drink and food per week, and when you deduct all costs can you afford to pay the rent and make a decent profit? If not and any negotiation proves fruitless then this is not the property for you. 
  4. Get a lawyer​ - if the rent is acceptable then (prepare for cliché) you need a good lawyer. You need a property lawyer to check that the lease is commercially acceptable for your needs; for example, how long is the term, can the rent be increased and is it related to turnover? What are your repairing obligations and is there a break clause allowing you to leave if the business is not successful? Can you transfer the lease to another operator in five years’ time if you do really well?
  5. Check planning​ Your lawyer needs to check the planning position. If the property was previously an office or shop then a change-of-use application will be required. Is this likely to be successful? What does the local planning policy say about premises with A3 or A4 use? It may be worth speaking to the planning officer. If planning exists then are there any conditions — for example, a limit on hours or occupancy — which are unfavourable?
  6. Licensing​ — if the premises previously traded as a licensed business then is the licence in force? If it is, are the hours and activities acceptable? If there is not a licence then are you likely to get the licence that you want? Is there a cumulative impact area, which will make obtaining the licence for a bar very difficult?
  7. Get the right permissions​ If you still want to proceed by this stage then it is sensible to protect your position by making the agreement to take the property conditional (if these are not already in place) on both planning and licensing, so you only start paying the rent if you have satisfactory permissions in place. 
  8. Seek advice​ Generally, it is a bit of a minefield and professional advice at an early stage, despite the additional cost, is strongly advised.

Related topics Training

Related news

Show more