Bartender preparing a drink using tricks

You love beer. You love people. You have a knack for bringing those two together. So why not open a bar?

Owning a bar is perhaps a double-edged sword. It comes with its perks, surely. But it also comes with long nights, weekends, and holidays spent hiring and training staff (and coming up with bartender tricks to keep guests coming back).

So why does anyone do it? There are over 65,000 bars and nightclubs in the United States. Well, I don’t own a bar, so I can’t tell you….

But I did talk to restaurant industry veterans about how to open a bar. Here’s what they had to say.

Peter Matteo owns Bar 101 in Johnston, Rhode Island, a local gem.

“My best piece of advice would be to learn and perform each and every task associated with your business. This will give you great respect for the day to day operations of your business along with the employees who execute these duties regularly. Also, you will never be handcuffed to a bad employee.”

“Know your outcome. Have FOH and BOH work as a team. Make sure you have a restaurant mission and a culture so you can create raving fans!” says Fahmi Elabed, a restaurant vet of 15+ years at Piccolo Pronto.

“Location, positive effective training, quality over quantity menu creations.”

Billy Brophy says, “First off, write down your restaurant mission statement, your guiding vision, your top values and the standards you will hold everyone accountable to. Every decision from there should be filtered through those three things. Then, plan how the business will help you live the lifestyle you want to have, who your target customers are and how it will differentiate itself from the competition.”

‘Every new bar is a failing business.’

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“Location, positive effective training, quality over quantity menu creations,” says Salvatore Moretti, a restaurateur who has worn many hats – from executive chef to owner.

“When first opening your business you have a certain vision for your restaurant/bar. Once customers start pouring in pay attention to their needs and wants.”

From his experience as a Beverage Director, Managing Partner and Sommelier in various stints, Xavier Mariezcurrena Vega says it’s important to open any hospitality business out of love for people.

Beer In Hands

“… The reward will be in building a community around your mission and it takes a long time to hit profit. If you love what you’re doing and have the capital to stay the course, then you will be successful. If you do it just for money, it will be very trying.”

In his opinion, every new bar is a failing business. “Once you learn to scale back and live within your means while still following your mission and values, then it will finally turn to financial profit,” he encourages.

And finally, Peter Matteo urges to listen to your customers. “When first opening your business you have a certain vision for your restaurant/bar. Once customers start pouring in pay attention to their needs and wants. Don’t be thick headed – listen and adjust your business model as needed.”

What advice have you received on how to open a bar? Email – I’d love to hear your story!

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.