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Bar Business Plan Sample

Take some inspiration for your bar business plan with this sample.

Bar Business Plan Template
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Bar Business Plan Template

Use this free bar business plan template to easily create a great business plan that organizes your vision and helps you start, grow, or raise funding for your bar.

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DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

Executive Summary

Concept

Every neighborhood needs a neighborhood dive bar. At Dive, we modernize the neighborhood dive bar with creative snacks and vintage-inspired cocktails but keep the comfortable low lighting, billiards, and “no fuss” feel. Bar Manager and Owner Ted Linden along with his wife Caitlin are excited to bring this neighborhood hangout spot to Fishtown, Philadelphia and provide a place where people can hang out, socialize, and escape the pace of the city. 

Mission Statement

Dive’s mission is to create a comfortable lived-in dive bar, but skip the sticky floor and stale beer. Dive is a neighborhood bar in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fishtown that forgoes pretentiousness, offers great value, and provides a place where patrons can relax and reconnect with their friends. With Caitlin Linden’s input, Dive will also offer updated snack options and local beers that provide the dive bar feel, but for the modern Philadelphian. Dive’s values are great customer service, fair prices, and creative surprises. 

Menu

Dive’s bar will feature local breweries as well as affordable mainstays allowing patrons to try something new or stick with classic. Whether it be Miller High Life or Philadelphia’s own Professor Booty, there are plenty of options for an after work brew. Dive will also offer fresh updates to vintage cocktails, like a Kombucha Bay Breeze or a Pomegranate and Rosemary Manhattan. Snacks will feature a nod and wink to old classics but with international and updated flavors like the Char Siu flavored homemade pork rinds or the Tajin roasted peanuts. 

Market

Fishtown Philadelphia is a booming neighborhood just outside Philadelphia’s city center. Teeming with young professionals and accused of being “overly hipster” Dive provides an opportunity to simplify, uncomplicate, and forget about aesthetics for a second. While Fishtown was once a humble neighborhood of merchant workers near the Delaware River, it is now full of rehabbed brownstones and designer pups. Dive provides a nod towards the old neighborhood without posing as a local relic. 

Financing

The bar’s founders will invest in the bar’s success, but they will also have to seek SBA loans and business lines of credit to bring this vision to life. 

Company Overview

Bar Concept

Dive bar is a local watering hole that focuses on a comfortable, no-frills atmosphere, fancy and traditional beer and beverage options, updated vintage cocktails, and exciting bar snacks. Rather than have a full kitchen, Dive will offer a variety of rotating snacks featured on the handwritten menu above the bar. Drinks will include local breweries and national standbys. The ambiance will be overstuffed booths, polished wood, low lighting, billiards, darts, and a small backyard patio. Bartenders will be dressed casually and provide friendly customer service with an emphasis on getting to know patrons. 

While a dive bar isn’t revolutionary, Dive will stand out by being both a neighborhood bar while still appealing to the elevated palate and interests of Fishtown’s new and incoming residents. Snacks will consider international tastes, and the rotating menu will encourage repeat visits. Dive will also offer a loyalty club with unique rewards, such as participation-style trophies for milestone visits. 

Bar Service Model

Dive is a relaxed bar for people who want to take it slow and aren’t in a rush. Dive provides relaxed and reliable service in a no-stress atmosphere where bartenders treat patrons like regular people and patrons are expected to do the same. Bartenders will be able to wear clothing of their choice and bring their real selves to work. Team members will be recruited with an emphasis on representing the neighborhood in order to create an atmosphere of peers in community. Patrons will be able to reserve the patio for birthday parties, but generally speaking smaller events will be intermingled with everyone else at the bar, creating a casual place where even is welcome and sharing space. 

Sample Menu

  • Nuts with international seasonings like Gochujang or Tajin

  • Homemade pork rinds dusted with exciting flavors like Char Siu and Lingonberry Vinegar

  • Imported bags of potato snacks and chips from around the world

  • Local snacks native to Philadelphia like Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and Herr’s potato chips

  • National beers such as Budweiser, Miller High Life, and Coors

  • Local brews on a rotating and seasonal basis such as beer from 2nd Story Brewing and Yards Brewing Company

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Design and Layout

Dive will be a relatively small establishment with emphasis placed on gathering around the bar or around the available games such as the pool table or darts. Cars will also be available behind the bar for patrons who wish to play with their friends. Several booths will line the far wall, all within view of the bar. There will be one television in the bar, above the bartender, for Philadelphia sports games. The lighting will be low and accented with vintage neon, and the aesthetic will feature natural materials such as polished wood and cloth. The intended appeal is natural, no-fuss, classic, and low maintenance. 

The staff will be encouraged to wear work-appropriate outfits of their choice. Visible tattoos or piercings will not be discouraged and as long as friendly service is provided, service workers will be encouraged to bring their whole personality to work. The atmosphere will be inclusive and diversity-friendly and have a zero tolerance policy against racist, classist, or sexist language. 

To increase movement and community, all drinks and snacks will be ordered directly from the bartenders and there will be no table service. Patrons will be able to view signs at each table letting them know that snacks are available at the bar so as not to create confusion. 

Management Team

Owners - Tom and Caitlin Linden - native to Philadelphia, have returned to the city after ten (long) years of living in Los Angeles and are excited to build an honest and community-building business in one of Philadelphia’s bustling neighborhoods. Caitlin is a former human resources executive and plans to handle the hiring and business paperwork including sexual harassment prevention and racial inclusion training to ensure that Dive is only old school in appearance, but not in attitude. Tom has a finance degree and will handle accounting with the supervision of a private Certified Financial Planner. 

Bar Manager - Allegra Gay - Allegra is a transplant from Crown Heights in Brooklyn and has experience running bars in up-and-coming neighborhoods as well as cultural flagships. She is a passionate mixologist. Her responsibilities will include overseeing training of new staff and brainstorming new cocktails with her team of bartenders. 

Bartenders - the bartenders will assist Allegra in the operation of Dive and participate in brainstorming sessions for updated flavor profiles on classic cocktails. 

Everyone - as a team the owners, bar manager, and bartenders will gather once a month to research interesting or local snacks and examine pricepoints and scale. They will also meet weekly to try new snacks and drink offerings in order to be able to best explain and make recommendations to patrons. 

Cleaning - aside from day-to-day pickup, cleaning will be outsourced and handled during the day as the bar will not open until noon. 

Industry Analysis

Located in Fishtown Philadelphia, Dive will attract a combination of heavy foot traffic, visitors to Philadelphia and patrons who live or have recently moved to the neighborhood or surrounding neighborhoods. 

Target Market

Fishtown has been experiencing modest gentrification and growth since the early 2000’s and remains a noteworthy neighborhood for those visiting Philadelphia. Fishtown is also available on the subway and easily accessible through public transportation and many streets in the neighborhood feature on-street parking. 

Dive aims to attract locals and Philadelphia enthusiasts without becoming a tourist destination. Through local advertising and local hiring, Dive aims to remain a neighborhood bar and will therefore abstain from advertising bar crawls or large events on main pages of Philadelphia nightlife or event media outlets. 

Dive aims to serve customers who want a neighborhood relaxation spot, whether to escape the heat in the summer or to warm up in the winter. Dive has prices that cater to middle-income households and provides an inclusive and liberal atmosphere. 

Market Positioning

Because of Fishtowns’ growth and “hipster reputation” there are few establishments in Fishtown without pretenses or gimmick. Dive aims to provide a casual, honest, friendly atmosphere that is both familiar and high quality. Dive will also promote itself as a place to spend time, where patrons will not feel rushed and can reconnect and meet a friend on the weekend or after a long day working downtown. 

Where Dive provides interest in comparison to the typical dive bar is their service staff participation in new twists on classic cocktails and inspired snack options. Bartenders will be passionate snackers, happy to give recommendations and samples of newly-found snacks on the weekly, monthly, or seasonal menu. The seasonal snacks will be limited time only and provide an opportunity for repeat visits and a point of discussion between customers and staff. 

Dive will also mix “high and low” with classic American beers such as Bud Light and Miller High Life while offering higher-end craft brews local to Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania region. The cocktails will be designed by experienced mixologist Allegra and each bartender will be specifically trained on how to make each new cocktail ensuring consistency for customer experience. 

Location Analysis

Fishtown, as part of the inner core of Philadelphia, is both historic and new, old-school and innovative. Philadelphia is a city with an immense history but also home to some of America’s largest and most innovative companies such as Comcast, GlaxoSmithKline, and Urban Outfitters. As a city with one foot in the past (think Liberty Bell) and one in the future (leading educational institutions like UPenn and Temple University), Dive is the perfect marriage of old and new, much in the same way of the city itself. 

Philadelphia proper has over 1.6 million people connected by an underground subway line that runs through downtown and connects directly to Fishtown allowing for widespread and easy mobility throughout the city. Fishtown has a mix of rental and owned properties with largely row homes and historical townhouses as well as new townhouses that have been built with a modern aesthetic or as a nod to the historical district. 


Competitive Analysis


Seats

Meals

Pricing

Hours

Notes

Dive Bar

45

Snacks Only

*

12:00 PM - 12:00 AM

Bar and snacks

Olga’s White Russian

100

Bar and Full Kitchen

**

10:00 am - 2:00 AM

Russian entrees and appetizers and a Russian cocktail menu featuring imported vodkas

Tila’s Taqueria 

160

Lunch & Dinner

**

11:30 am - 11:00 pm

Mexican restaurant serving frozen margaritas and Mexican-American mainstays

Marketing Plan

Dive is all about community and comfort and rather than being a “special night out” intends to be a casual gathering and a place where locals and those on foot can wander in and then visit again and again when they want to relax. 

Customer Database

Dive will distribute zine-inspired flyers at doorsteps around the neighborhood and provide the same flyers at neighborhood restaurants. Dive will also be featured on the brewery websites of the beers that are available at Dive. Because Dive is a neighborhood bar, widespread marketing campaigns will not take place, but rather promote a grassroots feel with word-of-mouth reputational marketing. 

Loyalty Program

As a means to retain local customers and provide a low-stakes sense of competition, patrons will have their names placed in a notepad behind the bar and must request to have their visit “tallied.” Upon reaching milestones such as ten visits, twenty-five visits, and fifty visits, patrons will receive prizes of low monetary value and high nostalgia. Upon their 100th visit they will receive a custom Dive t-shirt that is only available for those that have visited over 100 times.

Community and Charity Involvement

Because Dive seeks to be an inclusive and forward-thinking neighborhood space, the bar will support local events such as gay pride, community sports teams, and other locally-specific initiatives. Dive will provide sponsorship to local organizations that champion inclusivity, racial diversity, and equity. Dive will also have inclusive stickers and emblems on their door including Black Lives Matter and the various LGBT pride flags. 

Public Relations

Dive will participate in local word-of-mouth public relations as well as rely on Google reviews to bolster search engine optimization (SEO) and online visibility. Notable reviews on local review websites will be made into quotes that are occasionally promoted on Dive’s social media or made into stickers. 

Dive will also work with other local businesses to source snacks and collaborate for drink ideas. For instance featured cocktails may feature farmer’s market produce and products, and local snacks might be made in collaboration or using seasoning from local restaurants and result in cross-promotion and positive reputational outcomes. 

Advertising and Social Media

Dive will rely on a strong Instagram presence for all specials, to feature photos of limited edition snacks, and announce the availability of new local craft beer options. The neon signs featured within the bar will provide photo-worthy opportunities for Dive’s bartenders to promote the bar on Instagram, and the owners will spend time daily answering comments and direct messages with a casual and friendly tone. The availability, genuineness, and earnest approach that Dive utilizes for their Instagram will act as advertising and increase visibility. Additionally, Dive will cross-promote other local businesses and events in pursuit of strong community relations and a culture of positive promotion. 

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Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing

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First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
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Operations Plan

Staffing and Training

As the owners and the bar manager are already accounted for, Dive’s biggest priority is to hire the right bartending staff for the location. We will hire five bartenders and grow as-needed or as current hires state their plans to work full-time or part-time. 

Training for staff will take place in the months leading up to the bar’s opening. The owner and bar manager will conduct interviews and hire the bartenders based on Dive’s values and their answers to the below interview questions. 

Recruitment

To recruit skilled and good-fit bartenders, Dive will rely on the recommendations of local restaurants and community-based hiring. The hiring process will prioritize kind easy-going staff with a passion for interesting cocktails and snacks and a friendly attitude. The owners will prioritize personality and are willing to train less experienced staff who will be able to build the communal experience of Dive. Additionally, Dive will promote open positions on their Instagram and ask local nearby restaurants and bars to cross-promote in search of new talent. 

Interview Questions

  1. What is your favorite classic cocktail and why?

  2. What do you think makes a good dive bar?

  3. What’s your go-to national brand beer?

  4. What are some of your favorite types of foods, in terms of ethnicity?

  5. Which flavors get you excited?

  6. What are your favorite snacks?

  7. What is your bartending style?

  8. What’s your favorite thing about Fishtown?

  9. What are your 3 top restaurants or bars in Fishtown and why?

Job Descriptions

Owners: 

The owners will handle the financial and administrative operations of the business, work alongside Allegra (bar manager) for marketing and creative ideas, fill in for shifts as bartenders, and work to help train the bartending staff. 

Bar Manager:

Allegra will brainstorm new cocktails with her bartending staff, research new snacks, stay in touch with local breweries, update social media, and train bartending staff. She will also begin implementing the loyalty program. 

Bartenders:

Bartenders are responsible for greeting all patrons and making quality drinks in a casual atmosphere. They will participate in tasting new product offerings and brainstorming new snacks, and tenured bartenders will also be able to update the bar’s social media and interact with customers online. All bartenders are responsible for stocking the bar and refilling the snacks as well as operating the point-of-sale and cash register. 

Work Health and Safety Standards

In order to make Diven as safe a working environment as possible for everyone, we will implement the following health and safety procedures.

  • All staff are required to wear slip-resistant footwear. 

  • All bartenders must be licensed and tips certified. 

  • To avoid injury on the job, all staff will be trained on how to move heavy objects and boxes and how to handle the extremely hot or cold temperatures of the restaurant.

  • Management staff will work to create safe practices and procedures and remove potential hazards to employees and guests.

  • Staff will not be expected to work when ill and management will help to get shifts covered and keep the restaurant running smoothly so that the pressure doesn’t fall on ill employees.

  • Dive will follow all local health guidelines and restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staffing Model

Dive will operate an open-book management model where the bar’s finances and revenue are shared and disseminated to all employees. Dive will hold bi-weekly staff meetings to share information about the business’s goals. The transparent model will foster goodwill with employees and promote a sense of inclusivity and community. 

  • The Bar Manager will make a base hourly pay of $20 an hour plus shared tips. 

  • Bartenders will make a base hourly pay of $9 an hour plus shared tips. 

  • The owners will not directly yield a salary but will share profits.

  • Long-term employees will be eligible for profit-sharing and potentially partial ownership. 

Customer Service Policies and Procedures

Three principles will guide guest service at Dive:

  1. Friendliness - a casual and no-stress customer service environment where guests do not feel rushed or pressured to make a decision and can sit and relax. 

  2. Community - Dive is a community bar in Fishtown, Philadelphia, and has pride for the neighborhood and as a business within the neighborhood. Everyone is welcome and locals are made to feel at home. 

  3. Creativity - by featuring new snacks and craft beers from local breweries, Dive will be a dive bar with a little something extra. Staff will be knowledgeable and a part of the creative process and take pride in the creative offerings at this neighborhood bar. 

  4. Inclusivity - Dive is a forward-thinking bar and everyone is welcome. Staff members will treat all patrons with respect and dignity and represent human rights and social movements that champion the fair and equitable treatment of all people. 

Suppliers

Dive will work with several local breweries as well as collaborate with local restaurants for snack opportunities. Dive will also source local snacks from Philadelphia suppliers and look towards using local or unique products in their inspired cocktail menu. Featured breweries and snack companies will be featured on the menu by name and tagged on social media promoting a business model of pride and co-promotion. 

Financial Analysis and Growth Plan

The bar will bring in $20/seat/hour, on average. 

Investment Plan

Owners Tom and Caitlin Linden will invest personal savings, for a total of $150,000 in initial investment. They will also seek a 7(a) Small Business Association for $150,000. Total startup funds equal $300,000. $75,000 will be retained for contingency funds and the remaining $250,000 will be used as startup funds. The owners will not return all profits after a $20 hourly rate for each of them until the business is able to pay back its loans and is completely solvent. Business lines of credit will be sought for some expenses, such as initial orders for equipment, supplies, and ingredients. They will refuse any lines of credit above 5% interest.

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