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New Bar...concepts, favorites, special sauce, ideas, trends... (1 Viewer)

Other Dutch

Footballguy
I am in the process of purchasing a bar and could really use some help and opinions from what everyone is seeing around the country.

The bar is 1800 sqft in a fairly younger/hipster semi-affluent area.  There is a kitchen next door that will have a pass-through to our bar, but that business will be owned and operated separately.  They are completely open to any concept (have a culinary arts background and strong restaurant success history).  It is situated at a major intersection in a walkable urban area.  There is a small sidewalk side patio on the front and 8 table patio in the back.  It is currently finished out with a small stage up front and, 40ft L-shaped bar, 15 craft taps, and full spirits bar.  It was a craft cocktail kinda place...but drink menu and finish out are all up in the air for a final concept.  This is in North Texas (and no it will not be BBQ, Country, Cowboy, etc themed).

This area already has a couple of dive-bars that are very successful.  It also has a couple of craft-cocktail bars and breweries that are all successful.

I'm curious what makes your favorite bar your favorite bar, and what are some of those things you've seen that you've never seen anywhere else.  It may be one of those concepts you saw while traveling and that you wish you had back home.  For example, I am from Baltimore and there is a bar that is heavily Grand Marnier themed with lockers for customer bottles.  Well we just had something like that open but with Jameson.  The Linq in Vegas has a bar that you can pour your own beer with a prepaid card.  I've seen Tiki bars pop up in some larger cities lately.  We have lots of the "game bars" with board games, big games like ping pong, jenga, etc...and pinball bars and dave & buster type bars.

I'm intrigued with the "mocktail" trend.  People like nice flavorful non-alcoholic drinks that are served in glasses similar to their alcoholic similarities.  Sounds weird...but people are willing to pay for a good non-alcoholic drink so they can hang out with their friends that like to drink. (healthy folks, pregnant, spouse that needs to relieve the sitter, etc).

Have you seen the mocktail trend in action?
Any concepts in your town you love?  What do you love about it?
Anything unique in your area that you feel like will be all over the place one day?
Any good ideas for bar/restaurant that are seperate but play off of each other nicely?

Oh and lastly, other than the "don't do it" advice...any other advice would be appreciated!

 

Gally

Footballguy
I wanted to start a sports bar that would always have theme nights throughout the week.  Something like always having a Monday Night Football game.  Get the rights to be able to show great games from the past.  You can tailor it to your area so being in Texas have old good Cowboy games.   Do the same for other sports as well.  Maybe have a fight night with classic fights.  An Olympic night with great Olympic themed events showing.  The possibilities are endless (but probably really expensive). 

I haven't looked into the cost of getting these rights so that may make it impossible but it's an idea. 

 

MAC_32

Footballguy
We went to a shuffleboard bar in a hipster part of town and had a blast. Except for all those ####### hipsters anyway.

 

eoMMan

Footballguy
Games (cornhole, giant Jenga, etc.)

Stripper poles scattered around (from the ground up)

Hire little people to work the door.

 

Poke_4_Life

Footballguy
Other Dutch said:
The Linq in Vegas has a bar that you can pour your own beer with a prepaid card.
I enjoy a place like this in KC.  It's not a prepaid card, but the card is tied to a customer's CC and if you don't return the 'tap card' you get an extra $10 charge and auto-gratuity of 18%.  The place in KC has like 40 taps, all self-serve, and the water beer glass washers.  Food was good too.  

Ah, crap.  Google shows me the place closed last fall.  Maybe don't go w/ that idea.  

 

Judge Smails

Footballguy
I tend to not gravitate to the high end mixologist joints with Serrano infused whatever.  Be great at whatever you decide. I do think food is critical. Craft a small but great menu and have someone in the kitchen who can execute. Or get great food trucks to swing by on different nights if you don’t want the hassle or deal with the license/codes. 

Self service or however you can provide faster service vs people waiting stacked 5 deep is a good thing  to think about now. 

 

Copeman

Footballguy
Maybe just a clean establishment with inviting ambiance, excellent service, and good drinks.  Something many bars are lacking now.  Don't worry about the trendy crap.  The service and good drinks are what will bring in the good reviews, and more business.

 

Ron Swanson

Footballguy
Good, friendly, and personable bartenders that stick around.  Don't be a place that has a rotating staff. Make it a great place to work and the customers will be attracted like bees to honey.

 

The General

Footballguy
A million different things you can do. 

Places that I always see full have great rotating beer lists (have a bit about each beer on menu / screen with IBU, fill growlers, etc) have lots of comfy outdoor seating. Decent food or food truck. Nothing fancy.

A ping pong table, shuffle board, is a nice bonus if you have a lot of space but not necessary.

Good vibe and outdoor seating though is the key. Mix in some Adirondack chairs.

Some nice lights or fire pit for outdoors in the evening.

Personally, prefer the grungier places myself.

 

FairWarning

Footballguy
First thing - know your state liquor laws. 

The General has a great point about rotatng beer lists.  The bar I go to still runs $1 drafts on Bud lite, Miller lite.  For every person drinking them during the slower time, 2 others are trying the rotating beer list at $5-7 a pint.  Rotating craft liquor is essential also.  

 

ffldrew

Footballguy
Personally - I like places with old school pinball

Another thing is to build up a good Sunday Football crowd. It might be Cowboys or another team fan club(Bills and Steeler fans are big and they drink). Free hotdogs at halftime.

Find some college alumni group looking for watch party location - if you don't have one already. Iowa fans and Wisconsin fans drink a lot. Depending on school find some food that is inked to their tailgating specialty and serve free at halftime. 

 

Long Ball Larry

Footballguy
I am a big fan of places that have a good coffee/espresso drinks.  I don’t know what  exactly is involved with roasting, but that can be a plus.  Also offers more options for folks who don’t want to drink and can potentially extend hours if combined with light breakfast options.

 

RUSF18

Footballguy
If I was a potential investor, it would concern me that the one "trend" you seem most intrigued by involves non-alcoholic drinks. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Other Dutch said:
I am in the process of purchasing a bar and could really use some help and opinions from what everyone is seeing around the country.

The bar is 1800 sqft in a fairly younger/hipster semi-affluent area.  There is a kitchen next door that will have a pass-through to our bar, but that business will be owned and operated separately.  They are completely open to any concept (have a culinary arts background and strong restaurant success history).  It is situated at a major intersection in a walkable urban area.  There is a small sidewalk side patio on the front and 8 table patio in the back.  It is currently finished out with a small stage up front and, 40ft L-shaped bar, 15 craft taps, and full spirits bar.  It was a craft cocktail kinda place...but drink menu and finish out are all up in the air for a final concept.  This is in North Texas (and no it will not be BBQ, Country, Cowboy, etc themed).

This area already has a couple of dive-bars that are very successful.  It also has a couple of craft-cocktail bars and breweries that are all successful.

I'm curious what makes your favorite bar your favorite bar, and what are some of those things you've seen that you've never seen anywhere else.  It may be one of those concepts you saw while traveling and that you wish you had back home.  For example, I am from Baltimore and there is a bar that is heavily Grand Marnier themed with lockers for customer bottles.  Well we just had something like that open but with Jameson.  The Linq in Vegas has a bar that you can pour your own beer with a prepaid card.  I've seen Tiki bars pop up in some larger cities lately.  We have lots of the "game bars" with board games, big games like ping pong, jenga, etc...and pinball bars and dave & buster type bars.

I'm intrigued with the "mocktail" trend.  People like nice flavorful non-alcoholic drinks that are served in glasses similar to their alcoholic similarities.  Sounds weird...but people are willing to pay for a good non-alcoholic drink so they can hang out with their friends that like to drink. (healthy folks, pregnant, spouse that needs to relieve the sitter, etc).

Have you seen the mocktail trend in action?
Any concepts in your town you love?  What do you love about it?
Anything unique in your area that you feel like will be all over the place one day?
Any good ideas for bar/restaurant that are seperate but play off of each other nicely?

Oh and lastly, other than the "don't do it" advice...any other advice would be appreciated!
What city in "North Texas"?

Do you have another account here?

 

Leroy Hoard

Footballguy
I am a big fan of places that have a good coffee/espresso drinks.  I don’t know what  exactly is involved with roasting, but that can be a plus.  Also offers more options for folks who don’t want to drink and can potentially extend hours if combined with light breakfast options.
Depending on local laws, one could potentially be open 24 hours. Just alter the drink and food menu to the time of the day.

 

Quint

Footballguy
- make sure your draft beer is cold. Frost Rails are a cool concept  though I’m not sure about the maintenance

- if you’re gonna do wine by the glass, be sure to curate an interesting list (I.e. go beyond “Chardonnay” and “Cabernet Sauvignon”) 

- don’t offer any cocktail that needs to be made in a blender. Your staff will thank you later. 

- during your “soft open” have an Industry Night where it’s exclusively staff from neighboring bars & restaurants. It’s an inexpensive form of outreach, and a good word or referral from establishments near you are valuable. 

GL GL

 

wlwiles

Footballguy
Not sure if you're going to be building/installing the actual bar/rail itself, but IMO bigger is better.  Hate going into a bar where the rail itself is small and/or crowded, especially if there aren't table waitresses (or there are and they suck) and you have to keep going up to the bar to get each drink. You end up having to order over some guy's shoulder every time, no thanks. 

 

Other Dutch

Footballguy
Not sure if you're going to be building/installing the actual bar/rail itself, but IMO bigger is better.  Hate going into a bar where the rail itself is small and/or crowded, especially if there aren't table waitresses (or there are and they suck) and you have to keep going up to the bar to get each drink. You end up having to order over some guy's shoulder every time, no thanks. 
Noted...and agreed.  Good point and thanks.  The bar is a good size and we will have waitress service.

 

Workhorse

Footballguy
When I was younger and renting an apartment in the city, I always thought that a Laundromat/Bar would be a great idea.

 

El Floppo

Footballguy
we go to a happy hour at a place that uses the bar/restaurant a few doors' down as their kitchen for warm foods- they do their own limited servings of cold anti-pasta type stuff. 

here's the restaurant/bar and the happy hour bar. 

we used to do the happy hour on friday nights and get food there when I'd get out of work at a reasonable hour... the last time we went it was closer to dinner (7ish) and the restaurant/bar was slammed with a dinner crowd so our food took forever. something to consider if your kitchen is an active kitchen for their own restaurant.

we like the happy hour place because it's mellow, has decent and simple drinks (mixologists have gone too far with the drinks that are showing up on cocktail menus), feels nice (design-wise) to us and has that food. also isn't usually crowded when we go around 6. 

wish I could tell you more about trends in my hood- I'm in NYC in the heart of the drinking/club/restaurant scene in the east village/lower east side... but with two kids, we don't go out much at all. and tbh, the crowd that goes out in our hood are the 20-something fraternity/finance bro-monsters and their sorority/PR counterparts. not our scene at all.

 

Ilov80s

Footballguy
The pour your own beer places are cool. I went to one in Denver and I’m surprised I haven’t seen any open up in the Metro Detroit area as I’m pretty sure we changed our laws a couple years ago to allow for them. They may not be legal where you live. Michigan generally has looser liquor laws but until a couple years ago we had a law that said patrons could not pour their own drinks.

 

Lehigh98

Footballguy
Beer lists where patrons get rewarded for finishing the list of 12, 25, 50, 100 beers.  I've seen t-shirts, engraved mugs, plaques on the wall, etc.  Those places always seem to keep a good base of customers that are in there working on their lists.  One bar I was in awarded people, that reached a certain level, invites to their exclusive holiday party.  They also would dedicate a day of the year at the top level and the person got to decide what the burger special of the day would be on their day.

 

LC512

Footballguy
I am in the process of purchasing a bar and could really use some help and opinions from what everyone is seeing around the country.

The bar is 1800 sqft in a fairly younger/hipster semi-affluent area.  There is a kitchen next door that will have a pass-through to our bar, but that business will be owned and operated separately.  They are completely open to any concept (have a culinary arts background and strong restaurant success history).  It is situated at a major intersection in a walkable urban area.  There is a small sidewalk side patio on the front and 8 table patio in the back.  It is currently finished out with a small stage up front and, 40ft L-shaped bar, 15 craft taps, and full spirits bar.  It was a craft cocktail kinda place...but drink menu and finish out are all up in the air for a final concept.  This is in North Texas (and no it will not be BBQ, Country, Cowboy, etc themed).

This area already has a couple of dive-bars that are very successful.  It also has a couple of craft-cocktail bars and breweries that are all successful.

I'm curious what makes your favorite bar your favorite bar, and what are some of those things you've seen that you've never seen anywhere else.  It may be one of those concepts you saw while traveling and that you wish you had back home.  For example, I am from Baltimore and there is a bar that is heavily Grand Marnier themed with lockers for customer bottles.  Well we just had something like that open but with Jameson.  The Linq in Vegas has a bar that you can pour your own beer with a prepaid card.  I've seen Tiki bars pop up in some larger cities lately.  We have lots of the "game bars" with board games, big games like ping pong, jenga, etc...and pinball bars and dave & buster type bars.

I'm intrigued with the "mocktail" trend.  People like nice flavorful non-alcoholic drinks that are served in glasses similar to their alcoholic similarities.  Sounds weird...but people are willing to pay for a good non-alcoholic drink so they can hang out with their friends that like to drink. (healthy folks, pregnant, spouse that needs to relieve the sitter, etc).

Have you seen the mocktail trend in action?
Any concepts in your town you love?  What do you love about it?
Anything unique in your area that you feel like will be all over the place one day?
Any good ideas for bar/restaurant that are seperate but play off of each other nicely?

Oh and lastly, other than the "don't do it" advice...any other advice would be appreciated!
I've always thought a sort of hipster Tiki Bar would play great in Deep Ellum, which is where I'm assuming you're talking about. I've been to a couple done right in major urban areas with a similar demo and they are crushing it. Charging $12-18 for very strong tiki type drinks in nice tiki mugs, and are just jammed with people trying to give them money. We went to one in Chicago and they sold the mugs (branded with the bar logo) for like $60, and they were selling like hotcakes. My wife bought two (lol).

The problem there is tightroping the tiki bar theme without coming off as kitschy, because that hipster young urban expendable-income crowd detests anything they see as kitschy or contrived.

 
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Ilov80s

Footballguy
I've always thought a sort of hipster Tiki Bar would play great in Deep Ellum, which is where I'm assuming you're talking about. I've been to a couple done right in major urban areas with a similar demo and they are crushing it. Charging $12-18 for very strong tiki type drinks in nice tiki mugs, and are just jammed with people trying to give them money. We went to one in Chicago and they sold the mugs (branded with the bar logo) for like $60, and they were selling like hotcakes. My wife bought two (lol).

The problem there is tightroping the tiki bar theme without coming off as kitschy, because that hipster young urban expendable-income crowd detests anything they see as kitschy or contrived.
Hmmm...I went to one in Detroit that was gun but definitely kitschy. I thought that was the point of it. Things that are kitschy are cool in an ironic sort of way. And this place actually sounds a lot less kitschy than the place in Chicago. The glasses don't have a logo on them and aren't for sale. They don't have good, they don't really sell much of anything except 6 or so tiki drinks. There isn't even a sign with the name of the bar outside. 

 
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LC512

Footballguy
Hmmm...I went to one in Detroit that was gun but definitely kitschy. I thought that was the point of it. Things that are kitschy are cool in an ironic sort of way. And this place actually sounds a lot less kitschy than the place in Chicago. The glasses don't have a logo on them and aren't for sale. They don't have good, they don't really sell much of anything except 6 or so tiki drinks. 
Sounds like a dive bar which hipsters also love, and can be cheesy.

You just have to avoid the middle ground where you're not seen as a dive bar and not seen as authentic with hand-crafted drinks with farm-to-glass bitters and little umbrellas made from responsible logging practices. 

The hipster is an elusive creature.

 

Ilov80s

Footballguy
Sounds like a dive bar which hipsters also love, and can be cheesy.

You just have to avoid the middle ground where you're not seen as a dive bar and not seen as authentic with hand-crafted drinks with farm-to-glass bitters and little umbrellas made from responsible logging practices. 

The hipster is an elusive creature.
Good point. It's definitely leans dive bar and the drinks are reasonable ($8-$14). They do them right, mine had a cinnmon stick they lit on fire so I could smelln the essence of cinnamon wtih it. It was fun but just the kind of place you would have 1 drink at before or after dinner. 

 

Mario Kart

Footballguy
Retro Bar

Have pinball games. Lots of pinball... like at least 10 of them.

Work with the restaurant because they have the customer stream so ask them as much as you can to find out what kind of people they serve and want to serve.

I'd also be curious as to why the previous bar didn't quite work out.

 

[icon]

Insoxicated
What does the neighborhood call for? What does it have/need? 

Unless it’s awesome, the vast majority of a bars traffic is from people in the general neighborhood... within 10-15 mins. Increasingly do with increasing focus on DUI laws and such. Uber/Lyft help but you still need to consider the neighborhood. 

Hot/Good/Friendly bartenders are your cornerstone. 

If you’re going to go premium, have a cheaper option or two for folks who don’t wanna drop a fortune. A “Two Buck Tap” or something. 

If there is a good office presence, happy hour can make your weeknights. Target females with drinks/specials is happy hour 101. 

Have a couple reasonably priced, good “grazing/shareable” plates. 

I don’t agree with doing TONS of beer SKUs unless you’re very well funded and can handle the spoilage until you can build the traffic. 

 

TheFanatic

Footballguy
[icon] said:
What does the neighborhood call for? What does it have/need? 

Unless it’s awesome, the vast majority of a bars traffic is from people in the general neighborhood... within 10-15 mins. Increasingly do with increasing focus on DUI laws and such. Uber/Lyft help but you still need to consider the neighborhood. 

Hot/Good/Friendly bartenders are your cornerstone. 

If you’re going to go premium, have a cheaper option or two for folks who don’t wanna drop a fortune. A “Two Buck Tap” or something. 

If there is a good office presence, happy hour can make your weeknights. Target females with drinks/specials is happy hour 101. 

Have a couple reasonably priced, good “grazing/shareable” plates. 

I don’t agree with doing TONS of beer SKUs unless you’re very well funded and can handle the spoilage until you can build the traffic. 
Make sure you get in front of these people. Teaser flyers to let them know new management is in control and changes are coming. Even go to the different businesses and offer free happy hours for the first 10 from each place on different nights to get them in, show them a good time and get them to come back. Go door to door at these places and find the office managers and pimp your place. 

A healthy presence on social media helps. Little signs placed at strategic places around the bar asking people to tag you in their posts reminds them they haven't posted something to the Gram in 3.4 minutes and they need to get on it. Something really cool for them to pose in front of for their selfies is a great idea too (giant fish tank, angel wings painted on the wall, Elvis impersonator mariachi band). Gets you free advertising. 

 

Don Quixote

Footballguy
You can make it a safe place for females, which may encourage it as a place for blind/online dates.  A bunch of bars near me are part of an "Ask for Angela" campaign.  If someone is feeling unsafe, go up to the bartender and ask for Angela, and it's a cue to the bartender that the patron wants help out of a situation.  Put up some signs in the women's restroom to spread awareness.  Give training to employees on how to handle. 

 

Gally

Footballguy
You can make it a safe place for females, which may encourage it as a place for blind/online dates.  A bunch of bars near me are part of an "Ask for Angela" campaign.  If someone is feeling unsafe, go up to the bartender and ask for Angela, and it's a cue to the bartender that the patron wants help out of a situation.  Put up some signs in the women's restroom to spread awareness.  Give training to employees on how to handle. 
Does this work and is it not known enough that true creeps are unaware of this situation?  This seems to be passed around enough now that it isn't secretive anymore but I guess it is just an easy way to ask for help without actually asking for help - even if the creeper is aware of it. 

 

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