Thinking of Quitting Your Job to Open a Bar? Read This First.

So you’re sick of your job and want to do something that you’re passionate about. You usually have a damn good time at the pub, so why not live the dream and open a bar?

Buy pints of beer for $3 and sell them for $8, purchase a bottle of vodka for $20 and slug punters $10 a shot. How can those numbers not add up to delicious profit? Alongside spending time at a perfectly decked out den, it could be the career you’ve always dreamed of…

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not that simple. Here are five reasons why running your own bar is not as easy, or fun, as you think.

we should buy a bar

  1. Build it, and they may or may not come.

It’s infinitely harder than you think to get people to walk into your bar instead of the one next door. People have favourite haunts and pubs have strong reputations; it’s exceedingly tough to break these. Just ask Big Johnny.

opening a bar

And even when you’re closed or quiet, there are still bills to pay, and they won’t get paid by hanging around in there drinking by yourself.

  1. You’ll be dealing with drunks like you, all the time.

Bars are in the business of intoxication. Jovial, smiling, laughing intoxication. But fighting, stealing, breaking intoxication, too. It’s a bit like babysitting adults.

passed out

Apart from the obvious problems this can cause, it also means headaches finding staff able and willing to deal with it too.

  1. The big, ugly, legal buck stops with you.

Everything that happens under the roof of a bar is ultimately the responsibility of the licensee, even if they’re not there. When the service of alcohol is involved, this is a big liability.


If things go wrong at your place and the buck is eventually passed to you, it can mean big fines and costly court appearances.

  1. It’s not just opening hours you’ll be there.

Don’t kid yourself thinking you’ll be working bar hours, or any shorter hours than you are now. You won’t.

Someone has to be available to take calls, order stock, crunch the numbers and fix the place up every morning. When you’re starting out (and for a long time after), that person will inevitably be you.

after hours

And that’s if things go right. Don’t worry about covering shifts, running around to fix broken equipment, doing the tax and firing and hiring… 14-hour days? Easy. And outside that you’re on call.

  1. There’s an accounting degree in it too.

Very few people find pushing paper and balancing books fun. But the reality is this back-end work will take up a large chunk of your time.

And we’re not talking about counting your riches. It’s paying everything from license fees to rental expenses, supplier bills to signage costs, water rates to wages. And that’s before the tax man comes knocking. Or you pay your own wage.

Counting on success

So there you have it. Not only is owning a bar a huge and risky financial investment, it’ll probably brew up a part time career as a bookkeeper too.

Now Watch:The guys from Applejack Hospitality actually did quit their jobs to open a bar. Here’s how they fared…

Images: Kamal HamidMike CarneyWatchcaddyPat JoyceEneas De Troya and Alan Cleaver, via Flickr.