If you dream of a packed bar of cheering fans hoisting frosty beer mugs while shouting encouragement at big-screen TVs, opening a sports bar might be the right business move for you. Running a sports bar can be profitable, but restaurant and bar businesses can be expensive to open.
It may cost between $10,000 to $50,000 to open a sports bar in 2011, according to Entrepreneur.com. More lavish establishments may have costs ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000, especially if extensive location remodeling will be required or liquor licenses highly competitive, according to attorney Eric C. Belanger of Endeavor Legal Attorneys at Law.
You’ll need a business license and liability insurance to open a sports bar. Establishments selling food, such as nachos, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches or other bar food options will need to file for a food permit. Apply for a beer-and-wine license to save money at the start and speed up application approval processes; or prepare to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a liquor license to include hard alcohol for preparing margaritas, Long Islands and celebratory shots for customers to take after touchdowns or field goals.
As with any restaurant or bar, sports bars require shelving for alcohol bottles, bar stools, tables and chairs. Bars require ice scoops, shaker tins, glassware, cash registers or point-of-sale computer systems. One of your biggest investments will be media technology, including flat-screen or high-definition TVs, quality sound systems and satellite TV. Because customers expect technology at least equal to what they have at home when paying for food and drink at a sports bar, you’ll need to regularly update audio and visual systems. Sports bars have a high cash flow, so consider purchasing and installing a security camera system to deter theft or discourage brawls when a favored sports team loses.
Payroll remains an important cost for sports bars. In addition to bartenders, bar backs help cut fruit for drinks and keep ice wells stocked. If your sports bar contains a kitchen, you’ll need a cook, food prep assistant and dishwasher. Consider hiring security guards for high-profile sports events such as playoffs or end-of-season competitions to ensure that guests stay safe. Other employee expenses include an accountant and general manager for running the business end of the sports bar.
Sports bars rely on marketing to compete with others bars and establish a presence in the community. Marketing costs can include printing business cards and fliers, building a website and hiring a photographer to take professional-quality photos of menu items. Other sports bar marketing efforts might include placing ads in the newspaper sports section, sponsoring a local athletic team or hosting special deals (such as promotional sports jerseys, baseball caps or T-shirts) during big games.