I want to buy a Tavern
So you want to buy a tavern? Okay! I will tell you that buying a tavern is just as difficult as operating a restaurant or fast food restaurant, if not more difficult. One important factor you have going for you is that you will be purchasing the goodwill, the customer base, along with the other assets of the business. You will not be starting from scratch looking for a location to build on.
First very important aspect to consider, have a business plan. What are your goals and what are going to achieve. Will you be buying the liquor license from the previous owner or will you be applying for your own. The reason behind the question is that in some villages, counties, suburbs, etc., there are only limited liquor licenses available. If the above governing municipalities are not issuing anymore liquor licenses, you will have to buy the existing license with the business. Liquor licenses in some states are declining. Don’t make the mistake of buying the business without the liquor license because the seller can walk with his license an open another tavern not far from you. If that happens, you will only be able to serve food without booze. In Chicago and its suburbs, purchasing a tavern, you will have to wait approximately three months before a background check is performed on you, in order to be accepted for your liquor license.
Second, setup your business entity. I would recommend an LLC (Limited Liability Company), because of its flexibility, easier to maintain and would protect your personal assets from business liabilities. After you have completed getting your LLC, you will have to apply for your EIN (employers ID #), business license and business bank account.
Third, do not remodel if you do not have to. You will kill your business. Some owners in the food and beverage business, start remodeling as soon as they get their foot in the door. That would be a disaster. I’m saying that because remodeling would kill the ambiance or décor the place had before. If the business was successful when you bought it, why fix something that’s not broken. Your customers, most likely will be locals. If they patronized the business before, they must have liked something about the scenery inside. I’ve seen this happen many times to many taverns and eating places. When I sold my tavern/restaurant, I told the new owner not to change a thing. He took my advice and is doing well. The only thing needed to be fixed, repaired or done new, is plumbing, electric, tile floor in kitchen, walk-in cooler, etc.
Fourth, make sure you are in compliance with your local laws. Once new ownership changes hands, you will be visited by the health department, building and zoning, fire department, state and local sanitation department, etc. If the previous owner was grandfathered from any laws, you will now have to conform to any new laws that were put on the books. For example, if the bar sink had only two basins for wash and rinse, you will have to put in another basin for the sanitation for your bar glasses.
Fifth, if you intend to have a small kitchen, which I had in my tavern, you will need an Ansul system. It’s a fire suppression system above your grill and fryers and under your hood. This is “code” in every kitchen everywhere. This has to be inspected every three months by a fire suppression company and be tagged after they are finished checking and or recharging it. If this is not done, and the fire inspector comes when your next inspection is due, you will be gigged and they will give you 30 days to correct it.
Sixth and last. Cleanliness. I cannot stress this enough. The first impression a customer gets of your place, is when he visits your bathrooms. If they are dirty and are either missing towels, hand dryers and toilet paper, they won’t be back or you will hear it from your patrons. It is not only embarrassing for you, but you will be gigged by your health department when you’re due for a visit.
About the Author
My name is Nick and I was in the foodservice industry for over 30 years. I had 2 successful restaurants and worked as a banquet bartender for a well known banquet/restaurant facility in a Chicago suburb near O’Hare airport. Please visit my blog regularly for I will be posting new content regularly. Your comments are welcome.