Want to open a bar? Then be sure to note the following

What does it take to open a bar? What’s the deal with newly founded companies? And what steps have to be taken?

Espresso Martini
Byliny Bar

Tips for opening a bar:

  • Register the business
  • Complete training
  • Apply for a liquor licence
  • Create the concept
  • Calculate your costs
  • Find and organise staff
  • Generate attention

In March 2023, Michal Caasmann and Norman Metzing  opened a new bar. The owners of the Byliny Restaurant in Düsseldorf are expanding with a second watering hole just around the corner. The bar is a new departure for both of them. Although they have many years of experience in the hospitality industry, it was clear to them that running a bar calls for specific expertise. So the pair took on specialist staff for support. What’s on the menu? Classic cocktails with alcohol? Non-alcoholic variants or innovative in-house creations? Michal and Norman considered these questions before they opened the Byliny Bar. MPULSE shows what’s important when opening a bar.

What needs to be in place before the bar opens?

Before a bar can open, a range of bureaucratic preconditions must be met. The first step in Germany is to apply for a trading licence at the trade office.

The trade office then informs all other relevant authorities. This includes the tax office and the local Chamber of Commerce (CoC). CoC training in food law and food hygiene is obligatory for the operators. New founders can only apply for a catering licence with a liquor licence when they have completed this training. The liquor licence, which is compulsory if alcohol is to be served, is issued by the public order office . Shortly before the owners open the bar, a couple of other things must be arranged. They have to apply for a health certificate from the health office for all employees. They must also register the bar with the relevant accident insurer, the Berufsgenossenschaft Nahrungsmittel und Gastgewerbe (BGN) [Employer's Liability Insurance Association for the Food and Catering Industry]. The bar operators must have all installations and renovations to the bar authorized and approved by the building regulations office.

What’s the bar concept all about?

A successful concept is the foundation of every newly opened bar. Here, it’s essential to know your target group and their preferences and requirements. For example, are you going to offer cocktails or serve craft beers? What types of music best fit the tastes of the guests? A specially-themed bar can also leave an unforgettable impression. It could be retro, tiki or a specialist whisky bar – the possibilities are endless. The important thing is that the bar should be furnished to reflect the desired ambience and create a feeling of wellbeing. The beverages should also be carefully selected to satisfy the different preferences of the guests. From cocktails with or without alcohol to spirits and mixers, there are many options for the drinks menu. What’s crucial is a consistent concept that stands out from other bars.

How much does it cost to open a bar?

There are many costs involved in opening a bar. Besides rent or purchase costs for premises, there are also costs for renovation and conversion works. Applying for licences such as the liquor and catering licences can also incur fees that can vary between €100 and €4,000 as each municipality sets these itself. The costs depend on the location, the scope of activities and whether it’s a new business or a takeover. Bar operators must also calculate the purchasing costs for cash register systems and entertainment electronics like music and video systems. In short, detailed costings are essential if you want to open a bar.

What needs to be considered when it comes to staff planning?

In terms of staff, experience and specialist knowledge are crucial. Those behind the bar should be well versed in the basics of preparing drinks and handling bar equipment and should be familiar with the various cocktail recipes. Politeness and customer orientation are also hugely important for serving staff. As well as being able to cater to guests’ wishes, especially in a more local establishment – be it casual or sophisticated – a sense of humour and a friendly ear are also important for creating a positive atmosphere. Communication and coordination between the team members are essential for ensuring that bar staff can work well together and offer a smooth service. Opening a bar also means assembling and managing a team that fits with the concept.


How will the public hear about the newly opened bar?

A targeted marketing strategy can win you new guests and increase awareness of the newly opened bar. Online platforms, social media, advertising in local media and cooperation with other companies are ideal ways to achieve this. Launch events or special campaigns can also help attract attention.

The owners of Byliny Düsseldorf worked with local food websites, used poster and flyer advertising, held entertaining campaign days like ‘Spare ribs and drinks’ and established a new Instagram channel to successfully attract new guests. In the ‘Unterbilk living room’, as the pair fondly refer to their bar, they and their team have created a cosy atmosphere where it’s a pleasure to pass the time. The concept is well received by the guests, who are a colourful bunch, ranging in age from 18 to 85 and everything in between. That’s because Norman and Michal welcome everyone.

Cocktail in the making

More than good spirits at Byliny Düsseldorf

New venture: How the owners of the Byliny Restaurant have expanded their business with a bar of the same name.

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