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How Much Does It Cost to Open a Wine Bar? (2024 Startup Costs)

Nick PerryAuthor

You love wine. You love wine so much that you think your town needs a wine bar, and you’re prepared to bring one to town. We love your enthusiasm, but let’s slow our roll for just a moment.

Many people before you have had dreams of opening a bar, but there’s a reason why not everybody is a bar owner. Starting a bar, like any hospitality venture, can be difficult and expensive. But, there are ways to do it that are cost-effective. 

In this article, you will learn how much it costs to open a wine bar and the specific costs to look out for.

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How much does it cost to open a wine bar?

According to Investopedia, it costs between $110,000 - $850,000 to open a bar. Obviously, this is a significant range and there are myriad factors that impact startup costs, especially location. It’s usually cheaper to buy an established bar than it is to lease or rent a space to turn it into a wine bar.

Wine bar startup costs

Any business venture has startup costs, but a wine bar has several you may have not considered yet. Let’s break it down.

Utilities

Just like your home, your wine bar needs electricity, water, and gas to operate. Depending on the size of your wine bar, you can expect your utility bills to be about in line with what you pay at home, or significantly more. For clarity, a 4,000-4,500 square foot restaurant has an average utility bill of $1,000 - $1,200 per month.

Price range: $1,000 - $1,200 per month, but more for a space larger than 4,000 square feet.

Location

Location is one of the most important decisions you can make for your wine bar. You probably have a general idea of what part of the country you want to open your wine bar in, but you have to get down to the nitty-gritty of finding somewhere with foot traffic that isn’t so exorbitantly expensive that you’ll be drowning in debt from the lease right out of the gate.

Depending on your budget and concept, you could invest in new construction, convert an existing commercial space to a wine bar, or purchase an operating restaurant in an existing building.

There are benefits to each, and each will have a different impact on your upfront costs, so you’ll have to research what’s available in your area to select the right location.

Interior finishes and equipment

You want to strike a certain aesthetic, but things that look nice often, well, are nice. And that can get expensive. There’s one thing going in your favor: bar equipment tends to be less expensive than restaurant equipment. Still, bar equipment alone could run you $20,000 - $40,000.

Beyond the essential bar supplies, you may also want to incorporate some thematic elements that require construction work, investment in decor, and more. It’s easy to get carried away with decor and design, so make sure you create a budget and stick to it.

Price range: $20,000 - $200,000

Pre-opening expenses

You can’t open your wine bar without anything to serve or anyone to serve it. You’ll start racking up operating expenses before opening day due to staff training, acquiring opening inventory, utilities, location costs, licenses, and those essential bar supplies like glasses, napkins, and cutlery (if applicable). That all adds up before you even open your doors.

Price range: $20,000 - $120,000

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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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Marketing

Your marketing expenditure fully depends on your business plan. Do you think you need significant pre-opening marketing to meet your financial projections? How important is it to get people in the door immediately?

While it’s important to build a brand for your wine bar, you don’t necessarily need to have it completely ironed out by opening. It’s helpful, but you can probably afford to let word-of-mouth and foot traffic support your wine bar through its first month or so. After that, you’ll need to develop a strong marketing plan to keep customers coming in and to turn new customers into loyal, repeat ones. How much you want to spend on your marketing budget is up to you, but most restaurants allocate 3%-6% of sales to marketing.

Price range: 3% - 6% of sales

Capital and contingency

It takes time to build a profitable wine bar. Your plan should account for gradual sales growth, even if you’re really popular out of the gate. All it takes is one bad month to derail the train, so it’s crucial to set aside some capital and contingency funding to help your restaurant navigate down times. You should set aside at least six months of contingency funding.

Price range: $20,000 - $250,000

Exterior finishes

When you think wine bar, you might imagine a speakeasy, with intriguing exterior touches like an understated sign or noir lighting. With a wine bar, you’re often going for class and mystique, and exterior touches are a nice way to showcase your brand and attract your clientele. Not to mention, during the nice times of the year, you’ll want to be able to service customers outside. Patio, anyone?

Price range: $1,000 - $40,000

Organizational and development costs

There are many fun parts about opening a bar. This isn’t one of them. It is, however, possibly the most important. There’s a lot of paperwork involved with running any kind of food or drink establishment, from the licenses and permits you must obtain, to insurance coverage, to paying out any contractors and other bills you’ve accrued in getting set up.

Prepare for this to take longer than you’d like. You can plan ahead by reviewing licenses and permits you’ll likely need to open your wine bar and set aside a large chunk of change to pay for everything.

Price range: $2,500 - $200,000

Professional services

It’s a non-essential item, but if you’ve never opened a bar before, it’s not a bad idea to hire some help. A consultant can help you navigate the travails of opening a bar, while professionals like architects, lawyers, accountants, and designers are valuable resources to advise and help you shape your vision.

Price range: $0 - $50,000

Technology

The food and beverage industry has leaned more heavily on restaurant technology in recent years, and your wine bar is no exception. Any establishment needs a restaurant point of sale system, and you may find you’d like other tech products to support more efficient workflows throughout the business.

That could include a handheld POS system to turn tables more quickly, scheduling and payroll software to streamline operations, or even an Order & Pay at the Table system to limit your staffing needs.

Price range: Request a demo

Food and beverage costs

A wine bar without any wine doesn’t sound all that appealing, does it? You may be able to save here by not offering food, but wine isn’t cheap, and if your entire concept is based around wine, you should expect to invest in some high-priced bottles. A well-stocked inventory ensures you’re not running out of menu options all the time, while some special wines can allow you to offer perks to VIP customers.

The average cost will vary each month, especially if you invest heavily upfront. Wine isn’t going to go bad like other food items, so you can afford to buy up a large supply (assuming you have the space) ahead of time if you’d like to lower your monthly order amounts.

Price range: $5,000 - $25,000

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Bar and Lounge POS Comparison Tool

A free, customizable Bar and Lounge POS Comparison Tool to research and compare point of sale systems in one Excel spreadsheet or editable PDF.

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You have a great concept, a good taste for wine, and you’re excited to bring your wine bar to life. Well, now you know just how expensive and time-consuming it is to open a wine bar. With some hard work and vision, you can make it a reality.

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