25 Things to Do to Make Your Bar a Failure

Sure, you had a lot of great ideas when you started your bar–but it can be tough to balance your need for a profitable bar with your need to be original and true to your startup ideas. Perhaps over the years your “great ideas” have become “silly ideas,” and you’ve started falling into a lot of the traps that slowly kill bars. Take a good look at this list, and then take a good, hard look at your bar at both peak operating hours, and during your lulls. Are you doing any of the 25 things that are sure to make your bar a failure?

  1. Outprice your customers. Everyone loves hanging out at the pricy, yet non-trendy place.

  2. Raise prices and cut quality. You know, like all those cool restaurants and bars did. The ones that closed. 

  3. Serve only domestic beers. All the cool, young kids with money are buying Bud.  

  4. Don’t advertise…ever. Then no one will know about you! Winning.

  5. Have no specials. That way, your customers will never be surprised.

  6. Burn your fries. It’s not like it’s the most common bar food or anything. 

  7. Under-cheese your nachos. Because everyone loves mushy chips with no toppings.

  8. Make it difficult to order a drink. We all love waiting in long lines and being ignored.

  9. Charge a cover, all day, everyday. Yeah, even at 11:00am. No, there’s not a live band.

  10. Don’t clean. Because shoes should always be stuck to the floor.

  11. Have filthy, inconvenient bathrooms. I mean, it’s not like anyone uses them in a bar.

  12. Only serve bottles, no drafts. Who wants to order a pint, anyhow?

  13. Show the same thing on the TV all the time. The Home Shopping Network rocks.

  14. Put the tables too close together. Clumsiness + liquor + tight spaces = love.

  15. Provide no parking. So no one can ever leave! Mwahaha!

  16. Locate yourself inconveniently. So no one can ever get there! Mwahaha!

  17. Cater too specifically to a certain crowd. We all like feeling like outsiders who don’t belong.

  18. Play your jukebox too loud. Drunk chick loves Ricky Martin, so lets all rock out to his whole album.

  19. Mismeasure your barstool height. Everyone’s always saying how they want to look short.

  20. Limit your bar menu. Cooking anything more than a burger is really hard. Fries are too adventurous.

  21. Under stock your liquor. I mean, no one wants to be able to order their favorite drink.

  22. Spill your drinks when serving. Smelling like stale beer and feeling sticky is awesome.

  23. Have your bartender carry on a conversation instead of working. He wants to.

  24. Hire snotty waitresses. Smiles are overrated anyway.

  25. Use old Bloody Mary mix. With enough celery, no one will notice the chunkiness.

Most bar owners who look at this list will identify at least a few problem areas, so this post comes with homework. (I know, I’m evil.)

First, make a list of every problem area that your bar has, then choose the one that upsets you the most. Come up with three things you can do to fix that problem. Try all three things…tonight. Tomorrow, pick the next item on your list, come up with three ways to fix it, and make those changes a reality tomorrow night. In this way, even if your bar has problems with every single item on this list, you’ll be able to fix them all within less than a month.

You know that your business is insanely competitive, and that running a bar or restaurant is almost guaranteed to fail. You don’t want that, and I don’t want that (after all, I do love food and I do love drinks–more of both in the world make me happier). When you follow this list, you’ll have fixed some of the most common items that bar owners make, and you’ll be better prepared to identify and correct other problems you face in the future. Down with failure–here’s to your success!

Readers, speak up! What are the most common bar problems you’ve faced? What drives you mad about the bars you hate?

Photo licensed by andriuXphoto