Bar Business Plan Guide + Free Example

July 6, 2023

Adam Hoeksema

Embarking on the journey of opening a bar is an exciting and sometimes difficult endeavor. However, among the necessary steps to transform your vision into reality, crafting a business plan may not be the first thing that comes to mind. It's understandable if you'd rather immerse yourself in creating the unique ambiance, concocting signature cocktails, and building an atmosphere for your customers.

Yet, in the world of potential lenders and investors, the expectations for a well-structured business plan is often a requirement. Especially if you're seeking financial support, such as an SBA loan, having a compelling business plan with accurate projections becomes an invaluable tool to showcase the potential success of your bar. Making sure your plan and financial data is within range of other bars is important as well!

In this ultimate guide, we will delve into the essential components of crafting a bar business plan that communicates your vision, impresses potential lenders & investors, and show you an example business plan (with a FREE template!).

With that in mind as the path forward, let’s dive in. 

What Should be Included in a Bar Business Plan?


A well-crafted bar business plan should convincingly demonstrate to investors and lenders the unique appeal of your establishment, why you and your crew are the perfect fit to manage the bar, and how the financial projections are carefully formulated to maximize profitability. Below, you'll find a comprehensive breakdown of our complimentary bar business plan template, tailored specifically to the thriving and ever-evolving bar industry.

Bar Business Plan Outline

I. Executive Summary

II. Business Concept

III. Market Analysis

IV. Competition Analysis

V. Marketing Strategy

VI. Menu and Kitchen Operations

VII. Service and Hospitality

VIII. Financial Plan

  • Startup Costs:
  • Projected Financial Summary:
  • Annual Sales, Gross Profit and Net Profit:
  • Key Financial Ratios:
  • Income Statement:
  • Balance Sheet:
  • Cash Flow Statement:

IX. Organizational Structure

X. Conclusion

How to do Market Research for a Bar Business Plan

Market research plays a vital role in developing a comprehensive bar business plan. Understanding your position in the market and validating the demand for your bar concept, location, and pricing structure are essential. You can learn more about our bar market research approach here. In this guide, we will outline effective strategies and tools to help you conduct market research for your bar.

Determining Advertising Costs for Your Bar:

To estimate the cost of advertising your bar, we recommend utilizing tools like Google Keyword Planner. This tool can assist you in identifying relevant keywords to attract customers to your bar's website. It also provides estimates of the cost per click for different keywords.

Identifying Customer Search Keywords:

To understand the keywords used by potential customers in their searches, we suggest using tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs. By analyzing your competitors' websites, you can determine the keywords they rank for and the amount of organic traffic generated by each keyword. This information can be invaluable in optimizing your bar's search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

Evaluating Seasonal Trends for Bars:

Google Trends can be an excellent resource to identify seasonal trends that may impact your bar concept. For instance, you can determine if certain bar themes or offerings have seasonal tendencies. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions regarding menu offerings, promotions, and marketing strategies throughout the year.

Analyzing Competitor Foot Traffic:

Gaining insights into the foot traffic of your competitors' bars is crucial for estimating potential customer volume. Conducting foot traffic reports on competitor locations can provide you with valuable data on the average number of customers they receive each month. This information will assist you in estimating potential traffic to your own bar.

Understanding your target market and the competitive landscape is essential when conducting market research for your bar business plan. By utilizing tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Google Trends, you can gain insights into advertising costs, customer search behavior, seasonal trends, and competitor foot traffic. This information will empower you to make informed decisions and develop a solid foundation for your bar business plan.

How to Create Financial Projections for a Bar Business Plan

It's time to transform your market research into actionable financial projections. Just like in any industry, the bar industry has its own set of factors that affect revenue, such as seating capacity, customer demand, and operational efficiency. Using a bar financial projection template is a great help in simplifying the process and increasing your confidence. Creating precise financial projections goes beyond demonstrating your bar's ability to repay loans; it's about demonstrating your path to profitability and ultimately manifestation of the financial goals you plan to achieve. Now, to create your projections, you need to incorporate the following:

  1. Estimate startup costs for your bar
  2. Forecast revenue including any food or events you plan to host
  3. Project food, alcohol, and labor costs
  4. Estimate your operating expenses like rent and utilities
  5. Calculate how much investor or loan capital you will need to open

While financial projections are a vital component of your bar business plan, they should not be approached in isolation. Remember to seek guidance from experienced professionals (like us at ProjectionHub!), leverage industry resources, and adapt your projections as you gather real-world insights during your bar's development and early operation stages.

By taking a thoughtful and realistic approach to financial planning, you'll not only present a compelling case to potential investors and lenders but also develop a solid foundation for your bar's success. Let these projections be a driving force that guides your decision-making and empowers you to build a thriving and memorable bar experience for your patrons.

Example Bar Business Plan

Below you will find the text of our example restaurant business plan.  You can also download a Google Doc version of this bar business plan template here so that you can edit it and make it your own.  You can also follow along in this video walkthrough that will help you make the business plan work for your restaurant concept.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary:

  • Business Description:
  • Market Analysis:
  • SWOT Analysis:

Marketing and Sales Strategy:

  • Branding and Identity:
  • Website, menu, and social media platforms:
  • Marketing materials and promotional items:
  • Marketing mix:
  • Product:
  • Pricing:
  • Place:
  • Promotion:

Operations Plan:

  • Organizational Structure:
  • Location and Facility:
  • SOP (Standard Operating Procedures):
  • Health and safety protocols:

Financial Projections:

  • Startup Costs and Use of Funds
  • Annual Sales, Gross Profit and Net Profit
  • Key Financial Ratios
  • Income Statement at a Glance
  • Income Statement Annual Summary
  • Cash Flow Statement Annual Summary
  • Balance Sheet Annual Summary

Conclusion:

I. Executive Summary

The name of our bar and grill is "Cheers & Grub". Cheers & Grub is a casual dining establishment that specializes in American-style cuisine with a focus on juicy burgers, delicious wings, and refreshing beers on tap. Our target market is young professionals and families in the downtown area who are looking for a casual and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy good food and drinks.

We aim to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by offering a unique and enjoyable dining experience. Our menu will feature a variety of classic American dishes, made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. Our bar will offer a wide selection of domestic and craft beers, as well as a variety of specialty cocktails. We will also host weekly events such as trivia nights and live music performances, to keep our customers engaged and entertained.

Our projected startup costs are $500,000, which includes the cost of leasehold improvements, equipment, and operating capital. Our projected first-year sales are $1.2 million, with a net profit margin of 7%. We anticipate steady growth in sales and profits over the next five years.

II. Business Concept

Cheers & Grub is a casual dining establishment that offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, combined with great food and drinks. Our menu will feature classic American dishes, such as burgers, wings, sandwiches, and salads, made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. Our bar will offer a variety of domestic and craft beers, as well as a selection of specialty cocktails.

The ambiance of our establishment will be modern and comfortable, with a touch of vintage charm. We will feature a spacious dining area, a full-service bar, and a cozy lounge area for customers to relax and enjoy live music performances. Our target market is young professionals and families in the downtown area who are looking for a casual and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy good food and drinks.

III. Market Analysis

The restaurant industry has been growing steadily in recent years, with an estimated market size of $899 billion in 2020. The demand for casual dining establishments like Cheers & Grub is particularly high, as consumers seek out convenient and affordable options for their dining needs. Our target market consists of young professionals and families in the downtown area who are looking for a casual and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy good food and drinks.

In terms of competition, there are several established bar and grill establishments in the downtown area. However, we believe that we can differentiate ourselves by offering a unique and enjoyable dining experience, made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. Our bar will also offer a wide selection of domestic and craft beers, as well as a variety of specialty cocktails, to appeal to a wider range of customers.

IV. Competition Analysis

The main competition in the downtown area consists of established bar and grill establishments, such as "The Local" and "Grill Master". The Local is known for its casual atmosphere and selection of domestic beers, while Grill Master is known for its specialty cocktails and live music performances.

We believe that we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors by offering a unique and enjoyable dining experience. Our menu will feature a variety of classic American dishes, made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients, and our bar will offer a wide selection of domestic and craft beers, as well as a variety of specialty cocktails. In addition, we will host weekly events such as trivia nights and live music performances, to keep our customers engaged and entertained.

V. Marketing Strategy

Our marketing strategy will focus on reaching our target market through a variety of channels, including online advertising, social media, and local promotions. We will also leverage our unique selling points, such as our fresh and locally-sourced ingredients, our selection of domestic and craft beers, and our weekly events, to attract and retain customers.

Online Advertising: We will utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to reach our target audience. This will include paid advertising, such as sponsored posts and ads, as well as organic content, such as pictures and videos of our menu items and events.

Social Media: We will create a strong presence on social media by regularly posting pictures, videos, and updates about our menu items, events, and promotions. This will help to engage our followers and build a loyal customer base.

Local Promotions: We will participate in local events and promotions, such as food festivals and charity events, to increase visibility and build brand awareness. We will also offer special deals and promotions, such as happy hour discounts and loyalty programs, to incentivize customers to visit Cheers & Grub.

VI. Menu and Kitchen Operations

Our menu will feature a variety of classic American dishes, made with fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. This includes juicy burgers, delicious wings, sandwiches, and salads. Our bar will offer a wide selection of domestic and craft beers, as well as a variety of specialty cocktails.

In terms of kitchen operations, we will have a fully-equipped kitchen. Our kitchen staff will be trained in food safety protocols, and we will have strict sanitation procedures in place to ensure the safety and quality of our food.

VII. Service and Hospitality

At Cheers & Grub, we will strive to provide exceptional service and hospitality to our customers. Our staff will be trained in customer service and will be equipped with the necessary skills to provide a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

Our dining area will feature table service, while our bar will offer full-service bar service, including the preparation of specialty cocktails. We will also have a lounge area for customers to relax and enjoy live music performances.

VIII. Financial Plan

Our projected startup costs are $350,000, which includes the cost of leasehold improvements, equipment, and operating capital. Our projected first-year sales are $1 million, with a net profit margin of 26%. We anticipate steady growth in sales and profits over the next five years, with a focus on expanding our menu offerings and hosting more events to attract and retain customers.

All of the unique financial projections you see below were generated using ProjectionHub’s Bar financial projection template. Use PH20BP to enjoy a 20% discount on the template. 

Startup Costs:

Projected Financial Summary:

Annual Sales, Gross Profit and Net Profit:

Key Financial Ratios:

Watch how to create financial projections for your very own bar and grill:

Income Statement:

Balance Sheet:

Cash Flow Statement:

IX. Organizational Structure

Cheers & Grub will be owned and operated by [Name], an experienced restaurateur with a passion for good food and drinks. [Name] will also serve as the manager, responsible for day-to-day operations, including menu development, kitchen operations, and staffing.

In terms of staffing, we will have a team of highly-skilled and trained employees, including a head chef, kitchen staff, servers, and bartenders. We will also have a human resources manager to handle employee relations and benefits.

X. Conclusion

In conclusion, Cheers & Grub is a casual dining establishment that offers a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, combined with great food and drinks. With a focus on fresh and locally-sourced ingredients, a wide selection of domestic and craft beers, and weekly events, we believe that we have the necessary elements to succeed in the competitive restaurant industry. Our financial projections are positive, and we are confident in our ability to achieve steady growth and profitability in the coming years.

Restaurant Business Plan FAQs

How can I conduct a thorough market analysis for my bar business plan?

To conduct a thorough market analysis, gather data on local and regional market trends, competition analysis (other bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues), target customer preferences, and potential market growth. This analysis will help you identify opportunities and position your bar effectively.

What should be included in the marketing and promotional strategies section of my bar business plan?

In the marketing and promotional strategies section, outline your plans for branding, advertising, social media presence, collaborations with local influencers or organizations, hosting events or themed nights, loyalty programs, and any other initiatives to attract and retain customers.

How should I address financial projections in my bar business plan?

Financial projections should include estimates for start-up costs, ongoing monthly expenses (rent, utilities, inventory), projected revenue based on customer traffic and average spending, cost of goods sold (beverages and food, if applicable), operating expenses, and a cash flow statement to demonstrate the viability of your bar.

What are the key components to include in a bar business plan?

A comprehensive bar business plan should include sections on executive summary, company description, market analysis, target market and customer profile, bar concept and offerings, marketing and promotional strategies, location selection, staffing and management, financial projections, and funding requirements.

About the Author

Adam is the Co-founder of ProjectionHub which helps entrepreneurs create financial projections for potential investors, lenders and internal business planning. Since 2012, over 50,000 entrepreneurs from around the world have used ProjectionHub to help create financial projections.

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