When my friends have get-togethers, we always reminisce about the good ol’ days: tailgates, drunken moments, that ugly girl Steve hooked up with that now has kids, etc. Without fail, the one topic that always gets brought up is one day pooling our funds when we all have upper-middle management jobs and student loans are paid off: buying a bar together. It is the dream of every man to create his own temple, his dojo to drinking perfection and to share his dream so that others may see the light.
As we got older (and turned 21), the natural progression of going to bars that let anyone eighteen-ish in to the “quiet, can have a conversation, cheap liquor specials” bars came to fruition. After a few drinks, we discuss what we’d want, how it would be laid out and most importantly, the name. You think, “It can’t be hard to run a bar.” After seeing the mouth breathing owners and high school educated managers run your favorite bar that seems to have a money printing press, it seems feasible. You’re college educated so it can’t be that hard, right?
Sports bar? Swanky hipster bastion? Maybe a yuppie scum haven where jazz fusion is played and people order drinks named after cities and cost more than an hour of work? I’ve always been partial to the off-the-beaten-path dive sports bar, but each person has their persuasion. Make sure the music selection matches the environment. There’s nothing worse than hearing some postmodern band you’ve never heard of called “Spirit Monk Cardigan” playing hurdy-gurdys during the Stanley Cup Finals.
Every bar has to have good specials. This is of the utmost importance. There are upwards of 50 bars in my college town. The death knell for any bar I’ve seen is being overpriced. Students can go anywhere, so why go to a bar where a pitcher of piss water is more expensive than a case of said piss water? Have the specials be consistent and fair. A good bar should add a bit of gamesmanship like a wheel special or challenge the bartenders to carnie games.
Another idea thrown around are the half-baked culturally sensitive days like “Margarita Monday” and “Tequila Tuesday,” which are really just excuses to drink Montezuma and not feel bad that the entire bottle cost more than the drink. St. Paddy’s Day and 4th of July type holidays should have some bar gear giveaways because people love free shit and unadulterated patriotism. Lady’s night, wing buffets, BOGO are all solid ideas. Get creative!
To be a successful bar, having palatable food is the #2 priority. Make sure the food plays to the crowd. When people are drunk, it is a proven fact that they will pay top dollar for a greasy, but delicious burger, some cheesy tacos or a sandwich crafted from the dreams of Snoop Dogg level high minds.
Again, this must match the style. The best bars offer an eclectic taste of local flavors, pay tribute to the university’s athletics, pictures of really drunken people doing what they do best in the establishment, and some tasteful bar décor. Don’t be cheap and cut corners on essential items like wetnaps, ketchup (Heinz only thanks), condiments in general, napkins, or table and chairs that don’t rock. Bonus points for having a deck outside to please the smokers and to sit outside on a warm, sunny day.
Nothing can make or break a bar quite like having a garbage name. There are classics like “The Library,” “Town’s name Brewpub,” etc., but originality is an unappreciated trait. Something meaningful and from the heart (as well as not confusing names like “The Backdoor” or “The Rainbow”) unless your desired bar is, in fact, a gay bar, which is perfectly acceptable. You do you, player.
Have a Twitter thing, or that Facebook stuff. It’s the digital age. Let people know when beers are half off, wings are .40 cents, and ladies night because every guy knows it is like shooting fish in a barrel. With a bazooka. If you build it, they will come.
Don’t do stupid shit
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Nothing sinks the ship of a bar faster than engaging in shady dealings, obvious cocaine habits, or hiring idiots..