Bar Ownership?

pysek

Karazhan Raider
7,222
45,828
69d 45m
I had an idea for a bar. Sports bars take advantage of the passions of sports fans and seem to reap a decent return. I wanted to do the same thing for nerds. I think a bar with a nerd theme, accepting of varied interests, could be pretty successful, given the right circumstances. There's an artsy section of town here I think would be perfect. This came from a conversation I had with a friend a couple of years ago. We debated where we would go for the evening and none of the usual bar fare sounded good. We groused about a place where people like us, who share similar passions for books, movies, games and general nerdery could go and be not only accepted, but could meet, game and drink with new people who shared those interests.

The idea is a neighborhood bar, not spending a lot of capital on renovations, but that would be decorated with all sorts of nerdy paraphernalia. Trek and Wars ship models, busts from LOTR, that sort of thing. TV's on the wall play movies (Iron Man, Trek movies, and the like). There would be a karaoke room, a game room with an xbox or playstation where you can rent time to play games while drinking (I'm not sure about copyrights and trademarks, so the idea would be you rent the ROOM and the games come with it), cosplay contests, tabletop gaming, sit at a table with a stranger (basically, if you choose, you sit at a table with a group of strangers, so you meet new people who hopefully share your interests). Given the right location, I think this could become a reasonably successful enterprise. There are no bars of this type anywhere in town and so there might be some interest based on that alone.

The issue is, I'm brand new to business ownership. I do have an MBA and my wife is quite knowledgeable about bars in general, but neither of us have any specific knowledge of how to get this going. I'm at the very beginning stages, but my initial research indicates that capital might be hard to raise as banks and federal lending institutions are loathe to invest in vice, especially when so many fail early on.
I guess what I'm hoping is that any of you guys who have undertaken similar enterprises would enlighten me as to some of the pitfalls and unexpected things that might arise, plus telling your story as to how you got your business off the ground. Thank you for reading.
 

Silence_sl

shitlord
2,458
9
0
All your nerdy decorations will be broken within two weeks. Nerds don't do bars; they drink warm milk before bed every night at 9PM.

There's a reason why there are no nerds bars. Anywhere.

You say you are knowledgeable about bars, but then you let on that you have no money. Your largest hurdle in this entire endeavor is landing a liquor license....and good luck doing that with no money, unless you live in a town in North Dakota: population 3.
 

Tarrant

<Nazi Janitors>
13,644
5,092
32d 22h 46m
There's a reason why there are no nerds bars. Anywhere.
You sir are incorrect. You've clearly never been to The Venue in Minneapolis.

http://www.thevenuempls.com/

It used to be Insert Coin(s) (which got it's start in Vegas) but the owners of another large club in town bought it and renamed it when it began getting really popular.

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More of a club then just a bar, tis place is a massive nerd hang out that supports really all sub culture backrounds. They have cosplay nights, video game tournys and it's a pretty fun place really.
 

pysek

Karazhan Raider
7,222
45,828
69d 45m
A liquor license is relatively cheap in my state, the inspections are problematic but from what I hear, not impossible to deal with, plus I know a couple of people at the licensing commission. I did not say I was knowledgeable about the management of bars, I said my wife was somewhat familiar with bars and I have an MBA. And maybe whatever town you live in everything shuts down at 9pm, but I myself and several friends I know would relish such a place. Yes, I have no money. I assume people start businesses frequently with little to no personal capital. But you think the idea is a shitty one. Message received, thank you for your input.
 

Eomer

Trakanon Raider
5,472
270
10m
Your specific idea aside, restaurants and bars have extremely high failure rates. In my opinion they are not something that people should attempt unless they are either already wealthy and won't be particularly upset about walking away from a couple hundred grand if it fails or they are attempting it with someone else's money who is in a similar situation. I'm quite sure that no bank will touch this with a 10 foot pole, unless you have an extremely impressive business plan, a shitload of past experience in the industry, and most of the financial backing already in place.

As far as your specific idea goes, I'm not sure that it's something that could do well. It would be very, very dependent on what city you are in, and where in that city it's located. Location and marketing are so important for bars and restaurants. Unless you hit the ground running immediately, it can be impossible to recover from a bad opening, poor word of mouth, or simply being located in a shitty part of town. You mention that you think you could do it inexpensively. I really don't see how that's possible for this kind of a concept. You'd need extensive IT and electrical infrastructure, specialized lighting systems, lots of furniture/desks/whatever, full kitchen, on and on and on. The place that Tarrant showed pictures of doesn't look cheap. That looks expensive as hell.

You mentioned that you'd have possibly different rooms for people to partake in different activities. That would imply it's going to be a pretty big space overall, but you also mention that it would be modeled on a "neighborhood pub" in terms of size. Even if you somehow configure a somewhat smallish space to accommodate different simultaneous purposes, the reality is that this kind of bar couldn't ever be a "neighborhood pub" unless it's in a very large, dense city. It would have to draw people from a very wide area. Even if a lot of people game, true "gamers" aren't exactly common. And many of them are insular, socially retarded, cheapskate shut ins. A bar does well because people are buying a dozen or more drinks in an evening, not because they sold 12 Bud Lights to a table of 4 dudes playing D&D for 8 hours.

What percentage of sales do you foresee being from liquor, food, merchandise, room/console/PC rent, etc? I just don't see a concept like this deriving most of it's money from liquor sales. If anything it sounds more like a licensed internet/gamer cafe. Maybe those can be successful in some cities in North America, but from what I'm aware it's a very tiny niche market.

tldr: opening a bar or restaurant with a great concept is tantamount to committing financial suicide to begin with, and I just don't think this is a good concept

pysek_sl said:
Yes, I have no money. I assume people start businesses frequently with little to no personal capital.
How the fuck did you get an MBA?
 

pysek

Karazhan Raider
7,222
45,828
69d 45m
Forgive me if I'm way off, as I said, I'm quite new to this, just seeing how possible the idea is. I assumed people got small business loans, loans from banks, investors, or other sources to provide capital to start a business. That said, I also understand that these loans from banks are hard to get for a vice business that has a pretty low rate of success. But I don't KNOW much of anything, which is why I am asking for advice or stories from people who've already been through similar circumstances. If I misunderstood the point of the board, I apologize.
 

Eomer

Trakanon Raider
5,472
270
10m
Don't get offended if people aggressively point out faults, that's just the way things roll, even in this section of the board.

In general, no, banks do not lend much money to small businesses being started by people who have little or no skin in the game. From their perspective, it's just too risky. They're making what, 5-7% interest on the loan? When there's an absolutely massive default rate for just about any small business. It simply makes no sense from their perspective, unless you have a bunch of personal assets they can come after fairly easily when shit goes sideways. Otherwise you and/or your company file for bankruptcy and the bank is left holding the bag.

My business does 15-20m in sales annually, 1-2m in profit on average, and it's been around since 1958. You would not believe the shit my bank makes me put up with just to keep a 400k line of credit in place in case we need it.
 

pysek

Karazhan Raider
7,222
45,828
69d 45m
Oh, I'm in no way offended. I want my shit ripped to hell and back. That's how you learn and improve. I'm just on the very precipice of this and before I waded in too deeply, I wanted information from a group of people I wasn't afraid to show my ignorance to. I do apologize if my ignorance offends, but unless you admit it, you never lose it.
 

OneofOne

Vyemm Raider
4,646
2,856
My anecdotal experience (I work with a lot of small businesses) is that either 1) they started their business with personal savings, raiding their retirement fund(s), angel investors, or loans from family/friends or 2) they started small (in their garage, or personal van, etc) and worked their business up. I'm sure the SBA and local banks play a role in businesses starting up as well, but I'm just telling you what I see with my own eyeballs. I find it very hard to believe you'll get ANYONE other than friends or family to give you cash without a sizable stake of your own.

As far as the business itself? Bars make money because wholesale vs retail cost on alcohol is INSANELY different. I'm not seeing the type of clientele that you need to take advantage of this. The LAST damn thing you want is, like Eomer said, a bunch of people coming in to RP or play MTG or some shit for hours on end sucking up table space and spending little.
 

pysek

Karazhan Raider
7,222
45,828
69d 45m
That is a valid point and a point of concern. This is all still coalescing in my head. I just know how much I like the concept of a place for people like me, but clearly the execution of said concept is a bugger.
 

taebin

Same trailer, different park
738
134
34d 7h 56m
My best advice is to try and get on Shark Tank and make a pitch to Mark Cuban. He seems kinda nerdy and might invest.
 

Adebisi

What a time to be alive
<Silver Donator>
26,916
30,906
35d 3h 13m
Eomer's gonna steal your idea and make even more money.
 

Soygen

The Dirty Dozen For the Price of One
<Gold Donor>
27,175
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Ugh, that place looks hipster as fuck. I could never hang out there.
 

Citz

Silver Squire
180
8
4h 58m
Isn't there a very successful bar like that in Australia? I think it's called the Mana bar.
In Montreal, there is a pub where the point is to play board games. Their walls is packed full of games. You pay a cover of 5$ then you get to play any kind of board games you want. They also sell alcohol and snacks. When you go there with a few friends, the bill can go up fast. That place is packed all the time.

These kind of place exist but they are rare probably because the market is small.
 

Picasso3

Silver Baronet of the Realm
11,333
5,330
You're going to tie the m/f ratio of video games with a place everyone only endures because they're trying to fuck.
 

Tarrant

<Nazi Janitors>
13,644
5,092
32d 22h 46m
Ugh, that place looks hipster as fuck. I could never hang out there.
It's not, it's on the wrong side of town for hipsters. This place is downtown, the hipsters hang out in uptown.

I wish I was making that up.

Edit: Nevermind, I think you were talking to Eyashusa.