Start a martini bar business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Martini Bar Business
- Form your Martini Bar Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Martini Bar Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Martini Bar Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Martini Bar Business
- Get Martini Bar Business Insurance
- Define your Martini Bar Business Brand
- Create your Martini Bar Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your martini bar business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a martini bar business?
Your initial costs depend upon a number of factors, including location, local rules and regulations regarding a liquor license, the location you choose, and required renovations to the building. Depending upon your geographical location, a liquor license can cost anywhere from $15,000 to over $500,000. Once this has been obtained, you will need to make any necessary alterations to your new building, decorate, invest in a point-of-sale (POS) system, and stock the shelves with glassware and liquor. Start-up costs for a martini bar range from $100,000 to $1.5 million, with an average of $400,000. New investors are encouraged to over-capitalize, adding 20% to their initial budget.
What are the ongoing expenses for a martini bar business?
Payroll and inventory costs represent the greatest portion of a martini bar’s monthly budget. The establishment must be well-maintained and kept on a regular cleaning schedule. A strong marketing strategy will ensure a steady flow of business, and business insurance will protect your business should a loss or event occur.
Who is the target market?
James Bond’s infamous “shaken, not stirred" catchphrase helped put the martini on the map, earning it the title of America’s classic cocktail. While the “three martini lunch” was most prevalent among America’s wealthiest in the 1950s, drinkers of every age and profession now enjoy this clean and refreshing drink. Patrons of your martini bar will span every age group and social backgrounds. Their love of the cocktail and desire to patronize a unique bar is what will bring martini lovers to your bar.
How does a martini bar business make money?
A martini bar makes money from the sale of each martini. Many specialty bars now offer additional services, such as games, live entertainment, and/or food.
How much can you charge customers?
With mixology’s rise in popularity, customer’s have become accustomed to spending more than usual on a unique drink. A martini costs anywhere from $12 to $20, depending upon geographical location, ongoing expenses, and cost of ingredients.
How much profit can a martini bar business make?
While owning a bar can be quite lucrative, it can take several years to turn a profit. Successful owners report an average revenue of $1 million annually. Once expenses are deducted, this can yield a significant profit, particularly for entrepreneurs who keep detailed records and minimize ongoing expenses wherever possible.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Gain visibility in the community and maximize profits by hosting special events and/or live entertainment. Branded merchandise will help generate more revenue and ensure your business is advertised every time the item is worn. Additionally, a limited food menu will keep your patrons full and bellied up to the bar as long as possible.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Martini Bar Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your martini bar business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a martini bar business
With a diverse target market, your marketing strategy should cross several platforms. Traditional marketing strategies, such as radio, television, and printed advertisements will reach the older audience. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will help spread the word with the younger generations. Cocktail competitions are a unique way to gain visibility within the community, attracting the industry’s top mixologists.
How to keep customers coming back
No amount of money spent on advertising will yield more than word of mouth. Surround yourself with a team that is devoted to delivering top-notch service and quality drinks. This, coupled with an environment that is both eccentric and welcoming, will help your martini bar gain a loyal following.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2022 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Nextiva
Nextiva is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start A Martini Bar Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Owning a bar, regardless of its niche, requires dedication and hard work. The entrepreneur with a vision, drive, and a passion for serving the people of their community are best suited for this business venture.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a martini bar business?
Contrary to popular belief, the martini bar owner’s day starts early. Before the bar opens, nightly reports are reviewed, accounting and other administrative duties are handled, inventory is counted, shelves are restocked, and supplies are ordered. The building must be cleaned and any maintenance issues are addressed. While the bar is making a name for itself within the community, marketing and advertising will also be an integral part of a bar owner’s day. Once the bar is open for the day, you and your staff will create cocktails, interact with customers, and handle any issues that might arise.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful martini bar business?
To set yourself up for success, it is imperative that you understand your strengths and weaknesses. If your strength is behind the bar making drinks, hire a bar manager with extensive experience to oversee the day-to-day activities. If accounting or marketing is your strength, make this your focus and hire professionals to do the rest. Regardless of your business model, strong interpersonal skills and a sound understanding of current and emerging business trends will ensure your martini bar draws in customers night after night.
What is the growth potential for a martini bar business?
The rise in popularity of mixology over the last decade offers a unique opportunity for the entrepreneur looking to enter the industry. Whether you envision growing on a local or national scale, a commitment to your vision, a unique atmosphere, and quality drinks will help you meet your growth goals.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a martini bar business?
In many areas of the country, obtaining a liquor license is the most costly and difficult investment. Involvement in the community, including town hall meetings, can help speed up this process. Put yourself in their shoes, listen to the concerns, and be open and honest with what you are trying to accomplish.
The hospitality industry offers a rare glimpse at the outside world. You will encounter all walks of life and experience things you never dreamed of. Prepare for the worst, and plan for the best.
How and when to build a team
Due to the legalities that come with owning a bar, new business owners are encouraged to build a team of professionals from the start. This should include an attorney, accountant, and a qualified bar manager. Since your bartenders are the face of the company and will be concocting drinks for your patrons, you will want to hire individuals with strong interpersonal skills and a passion for mixology. A training manual and cocktail recipe book will ensure consistency and quality.