Blunt Advice: Opening a Bar

To educate the uninitiated, Chris Lenahan knows a little something about designing, opening and owning bars and clubs. For over 20 years, Lenahan has done all three to great success.

Over the course of three hours, during this year’s Nightclub & Bar Show, Lenahan and a team of SCORE mentors helped participants figure out what type of location they wanted to open, break into likeminded groups to talk out their concepts, design their venue and get it up and running for 30 days.

The advice was both invaluable and blunt: “We are not allowed to have bad days,” “Watch Bar Rescue,” and “Your employees are not your friends. Your managers are not your friends,” are some of key examples.

Lenahan also pointed out plenty of obvious but often ignored facts about owning a bar:

  • undercapitalization will kill your business before the doors even open
  • you need to know your local dram laws
  • this business is risky so it’s important to get a lawyer and protect your assets

Also, know that you need to be prepared for a marathon and not a sprint. In fact, Lenahan suggested that the beginner bar owners who attended the workshop write a note to themselves listing where they’re at in life in all aspects and to read it two years later. A sound suggestion for us all.

Looking for more advice on how to open a bar? Make sure to attend Tobin Ellis' beginner workshop at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show taking place on March 7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Register Today! 

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