How to Open a Nightclub in California


California is comprised of great beaches, beautiful people and a thriving nightlife. The metropolitan areas of California are known for having some of the most dynamic nightclubs. From blues bars to dance halls, the state pulsates with energy while business owners are making immeasurable profits.

Opening a nightclub in California is great way to take advantage of the state's booming nightlife scene. With careful planning and enough capital, this business venture can quickly turn into a financial gain.

Develop a business plan. Include all start-up costs and decide how you will fund your nightclub. A business plan is a blueprint that includes everything needed to launch and run a successful business. A business plan for a nightclub should include estimates for rent, utilities, equipment, renovations, licenses, permits, marketing, payroll, legal services and inventory. Include a projected sales goal and monthly operational costs. Monthly overhead to run your nightclub should not exceed your monthly project sales goal.

Choose a location in California. California has 58 counties. Contact the California Governor’s Office of Economic Development to receive help with selecting a location. The organization provides tailored site selection services and advice for new businesses.

Lease or purchase a venue. Choose a maximum occupancy. Select a venue large enough to accommodate the maximum occupancy. A venue can be ready-to-occupy or built-to-suit. Tailor your location with renovations after you obtain the necessary licenses, permits and registrations.

Decide on a business name and obtain proper licenses, permits and registrations. Choose from the following business structures: sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability, limited partnership, general partnership and limited liability partnership. Register for an employee identification number, also known as an EIN. The state of California requires seller permits, income tax information, workers' compensation information, registrations forms for employers and occupational safety and health information. Several county and city requirements, like zoning and fire inspections will be required depending on the location of the nightclub. Browse the California Governor’s Office of Economic Development website for a complete list of requirements.

Select distributors to provide alcohol and food. Decide what type of food and alcohol you want to provide and search for local distribution. Choosing a local distributor will save money. Check references to ensure the distributor has a reputation of on-time deliveries.

Hire and train your staff. Use the local newspaper to post job opportunities. Hire individuals with experience working in a nightclub or contact a local bartending school for access to their recent graduates.

Select a grand opening day and hire a marketing company to handle club promotions. An effective marketing company will provide a team of professionals to design fliers and promotional materials to help populate the nightclub for the grand opening. Utilize social media and offer incentives for example, discounted drinks or free entry. Create a powerful first impression.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are serving food, you must comply with the health and safety regulations established by the California State Department of Health Services. They will conduct periodic inspections and fines can be issued for noncompliance.

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