Most of us have fantasized at some point about opening our own bar or restaurant. But being confident in your ability to concoct high-quality cocktails is different from the day to day running of a small business.

And that’s what you’d be doing. As with the creation of any small business, you need to start with a solid business plan that comprehensively covers your costs - now and into the future.

Some people will tell you you’ll need millions to start up a bar, but the truth is it depends - on your location, your concept, and your vision. You can spend as much as you want, but there are a few costs that might sneak under the radar if you’re not paying attention, and cost you in the long run.

Make sure you give these three hidden costs strong consideration if you’re opening a bar on a budget:

1. Legal set-up costs

We know what you’re thinking: I haven’t even opened and I already need a lawyer!? But don’t worry. It’s wise to get a lawyer from the outset to help you navigate the complexities of liquor licensing (after all, you do want to be able to serve alcohol, right?) In fact, paying the big bucks for legal expertise now could be the thing that keeps you in business - the last thing you’d want is to be shut down for missing something in the fine print.

Of course, lawyers are not cheap, and they charge by the hour. Make sure you get a good estimate of how much your legal costs will be as you create your start-up budget.

2. Construction

Found a cool, industrial space that is just crying out to be Melbourne’s next speakeasy? That’s all well and good, but the amount of construction that a space needs is what can blow out your budget. If you’re trying to open a bar with limited funds, look for space that is already being used as a bar, and won’t need any major renovations.

It’s sort of like buying a house - if the price tag seems reasonable, make sure you add the cost of any renovations you’d want to do to get the real price of a property.

Not sure how to estimate renovation costs? Come in and speak to one of our team members in our stores in Dandenong or Sunshine North - we’ve been involved in lots of projects from start to finish and will be able to help you assess the space you have in mind and determine how much work needs to be done to transform it into your dream bar.

3. Equipment

Running a bar takes more than a keg and some beer glasses. Have you thought about dishwashers? Ice machines? What about refrigerators or even glass chillers? It may seem overwhelming at first, but we assure you, it doesn’t have to be.

The smartest thing you can do is finance your equipment expenses. In doing so, you are literally investing in your own business, saving your cash for operating costs once you open. You often hear of new bars or restaurants going under after just a short time - that’s typically because they don’t have enough backup cash.

So, save your cash for a rainy day and invest in the equipment you need to get yourself up and running and get that revenue flowing in. We can help you decide where to spend and where to save on your kitchen and bar equipment, and can even talk you through options like leasing or rent-to-own.

Ultimately, being prepared will save you money. Come see us in-store and tell us about your dream bar. We want to help you make it happen!