If you recently opened or are planning to open a bar, you’ll need to be able to attract your future bar regulars. Who are these mysterious people? What do they like? How do you get them to come back? This article answers all your questions, and gives you tips that pack in the crowds.
1. Neighborhood Bar Regulars
Who they are: These people are, quite simply, the people in your neighborhood. Is your neighborhood filled with hipsters? Your neighborhood bar has hipsters. Do you see a lot of dog owners in your neighborhood? Yup, dog owners are sitting on your bar’s patio with their canine companions. This type of bar regular is very dependent on where your bar is located.
What they like: These people view your bar as a home away from home, and they like to go to your bar because it is comfortable and relaxed—a good place to stop in for a quick drink on their way home from work, or where they can soak up some afternoon sun drinking beers and hanging out with friends.
How to pack them in: Since these customers are looking for a place to kick back and have fun, make sure your bar has games that your regulars can play when they’re hanging out. Have video games, darts, pool tables, board games, or, at the very least have a great jukebox to get them in the door. Since your clientele is always in the neighborhood, offer really affordable nightly specials so that they say “What the heck, why don’t we just go out to __________ tonight?”
2. Sports Bar Regulars
Who they are: These people are sports fans, pure and simple. They come from all walks of life and from all socioeconomic classes. These customers stop by your bar in the middle of the day to check the score, and they pile in after work and on the weekends so that they can watch a great game with friends. This crowd tends to be male and are usually younger (21-35), but really, anyone who spends their time creating the perfect fantasy football team enjoys your sports bar.
What they like: Your sports bar regulars frequently arrive in or join a group, so they tend to order bar food appetizers (pizza bites, wings, nachos) and they also order multiple pitchers of beer.
How to pack them in: Offer food and drink specials that revolve around sports seasons or teams. For instance, you could name your appetizers after popular teams or offer specials on drinks when your favorite team wins the tournament / championship / cup / bowl / current sports competition. Because your regulars will be watching a lot of TV, make sure you have good TVs, clear TV stations, and make sure that your TVs are set on a few different stations so that everyone can watch what they want. You might want to offer at least one TV that is permanently tuned to a female-centric channel, such as the Food Network, so that your regulars’ dates aren’t bored.
3. Microbrewery Regulars
Who they are: This type of regular tends to be middle to upper-middle class, they are discerning in their beer tastes, they have a wide age range, but tend to be mostly above 35. They arrive at your bar in pairs, couples, or small groups, and they’re usually wearing nicer clothing, such as business casual.
What they like: These bar regulars want to hang out at your microbrewery and taste everything you offer. Either they know their favorite beer, or they try small tasters of absolutely everything you offer so they can decide which one they want to order. They want to hang out at your bar to have a relaxed dinner that includes real, healthy entrees, not just typical bar food.
How to pack them in: One of the best ways to pack your microbrewery is to offer a rotating selection of special beers. If you time your beer production schedule right, you can offer a new type of beer each month, depending on the season: November could be Smoked Beer month, March could be Irish or Red Beer month, etc. Keep your bar friendly with warm colors and laid back, yet highly efficient staff, and your customers will love coming out to your bar.
4. Dance Club Regulars
Who they are: Dance clubs draw a younger crowd of regulars who tend to be fun-loving, animated, and who usually arrive in large groups. Your regulars are under thirty years old, with trendy and sexy clothing. No matter if they’re male or female, everyone in your bar has spent hours prepping to go out for the night.
What they like: These people made sure they left the house looking amazing, so they want your bar to look amazing, too. In addition to good looks, your dance club should have a killer DJ every night, so that your guests can show off their best moves.
How to pack them in: Reel in the crowds with outrageous theme parties (like burlesque night), ladies night drink specials on slow nights, and really unique drinks with great presentation, preferably mixed by a well-known mixologist. Your club gets bonus points if you name your new alcoholic creations after music, dance moves, or raunchy innuendo.
5. Theme Bar Regulars
Who they are: A theme bar, such as a wine bar, a cigar bar, or a martini bar draws a very specific crowd that is attracted to what you have to offer. Overall, your regulars are well-to-do (or aspiring to be so), they come to your bar in small, intimate groups, and they all look as though they stepped right out of a cocktail party from a James Bond film. Wine bar regulars are mostly women, aged 26-45; cigar bar regulars are mostly men, aged 35 and up; and martini bar regulars are mixed, men and women, age 25 and up.
What they like: No matter what your theme is, your guests will expect a large amount of variety from you. If you are a martini bar, you should offer gin and vodka martinis, as well as saketinis, winetinis, teatinis, and appletinis (and anything else “-tini” you can think of). These regulars want a quiet, intimate, and beautiful atmosphere that matches their level of sophistication.
How to pack them in: Invite celebrity chefs or mixologists to create new menu items for your theme bar, and host parties that revolve around fundraising for charities, seasonal menu introductions, or that showcase local politicos.
If you notice that the type of regulars you’re attracting does not fit the type of person you imagined when you built your bar, you might want to consider changing the décor, the events, the drinks, or all the above to entice your preferred crowd. If changing everything sounds like too much work and expense, you can also just enjoy the customers you have, and ask them what they would like to see more of in your bar.
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