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What do you think of my bar idea?

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
I go to school in Ithaca NY and have one more year left. I'm thinking about starting a business there when I graduate and I was thinking about a bar for gourmet drinks. I want to have one area for coffee/espresso and then another area for wine and spirits, with a focus on wine. I'd have live entertainment and special college student promotions. I'm just not so sure of how well a wine bar would do in a college town, although Ithaca is on Cayuga Lake which is part of the finger lakes wine country. But I think it would be a cool alternative for students to come hang out at a wine bar instead of a typical bar and has the possibility of doing ok. What do you think?
post #2 of 52
1) It's very much about your staff. If you have shitty bartenders, people will leave. Same for doormen, djs, etc.

2) People drink espresso in the morning, wine in the evening with their food. What time are you planning on being open?

3) Do you like wine very much yourself? Remember that just because you like something yourself, it doesn't also mean that other people like that.

4) Have you worked behind a bar? The best management is usually capable of picking up any task, be it serving drinks or kicking people out the door.

5) Do you have any marketing experience? You mentioned that you're in a college town, so there is definitely some heavy competition.

6) And lastly: do you have enough money yourself? In general, you don't have to knock on banks' doors for loans for a bar, since the risk is just too high. So that leaves private investors and things like breweries - whose contracts are generally more pressing than those of banks.

So yeah: you need money, experience in the bar world and know your way around marketing. If you lack any of these, your place is pretty much bound to fail.
post #3 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kas View Post
1) It's very much about your staff. If you have shitty bartenders, people will leave. Same for doormen, djs, etc.

2) People drink espresso in the morning, wine in the evening with their food. What time are you planning on being open?

3) Do you like wine very much yourself? Remember that just because you like something yourself, it doesn't also mean that other people like that.

4) Have you worked behind a bar? The best management is usually capable of picking up any task, be it serving drinks or kicking people out the door.

5) Do you have any marketing experience? You mentioned that you're in a college town, so there is definitely some heavy competition.

6) And lastly: do you have enough money yourself? In general, you don't have to knock on banks' doors for loans for a bar, since the risk is just too high. So that leaves private investors and things like breweries - whose contracts are generally more pressing than those of banks.

So yeah: you need money, experience in the bar world and know your way around marketing. If you lack any of these, your place is pretty much bound to fail.

2.) Well that's the point of having both. Get the coffee drinkers in the morning and the night life crowd later. That way I'm not limiting myself to one type of customer. The bar scene and coffee for that matter are huge in Ithaca.

3.) Yes I am into wine. I work at a winery and am getting my advanced WSET certification. My goal is to have a wide variety of wines, especially acidic whites that a lot of people like. So I'm hoping to convert some people that may think they aren't big wine drinkers.

4.) Yes I do have experience working behind bars.

5.) I don't have much real world marketing experience. I am a business major so I have taken a lot of marketing classes, but that doesn't mean I'd be good at it. The competition is fine. There are a lot of bars in the area but there are also 6,000 students at IC and another 20k plus at Cornell. The bars are packed almost every night of the week.

6.) Money won't be a problem and I won't have to look to banks for loans.
post #4 of 52
One thing you have to remember about quality wine and spirits is, they cost a lot of money, both to buy if you're the consumer, and to hold in inventory if you are the retailer. Making a business like this sustainable is all about velocity of inventory turn over. Just something to think about.
post #5 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
One thing you have to remember about quality wine and spirits is, they cost a lot of money, both to buy if you're the consumer, and to hold in inventory if you are the retailer. Making a business like this sustainable is all about velocity of inventory turn over. Just something to think about.

Right. Which is why I'm a little concerned about this in a college town. But on the other hand there are a lot of rich kids at Cornell and Ithaca. It wouldn't be just expensive wine though. I'd have some good $10 (retail) stuff as well. I'd also want a place that is big enough so people can mingle around or dance when bands are playing, so it would be a hangout and not just a small, lifeless wine bar.
post #6 of 52
and, with wine, you have to think about how open bottles will keep. if you have a certain number of bottles of wine by the glass, will you be throwing inventory out at the end of the evening?


in general this isn't a bad idea - the execution is what will will make it or break it. I'd try to find a place that is almost identical to what you are thinking of, and work there for a while and learn how they do it.

its a pretty common theme in Argentina, where you have a lot of places that do exactly that - espresso in the morning and wine in the evening, and pretty much nothing else, maybe some simple baked goods.

I honestly don't know that I would have been interested in this when I was 20 - so I don't know that students will be your main market. but you never know. when I was a student, I drank wine mostly at home, and drank hard liquor and beer in bars, I didn't want to pay the mark up on wine. but you never know.
post #7 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbreen1 View Post
Right. Which is why I'm a little concerned about this in a college town. But on the other hand there are a lot of rich kids at Cornell and Ithaca. It wouldn't be just expensive wine though. I'd have some good $10 (retail) stuff as well. I'd also want a place that is big enough so people can mingle around or dance when bands are playing, so it would be a hangout and not just a small, lifeless wine bar.

I've never seen a wine place with dancing. I wouldn't be surprised in the economics of dance places and wine bars in very different.
post #8 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
I've never seen a wine place with dancing. I wouldn't be surprised in the economics of dance places and wine bars in very different.
I'm not going for a dance club. It's a college town. You need live bands and music or kids aren't going to show up. All the bars in the area have bands on the weekends and people hang out, some may dance, whatever. I'm going for that with a heavy wine influence. I'm not trying to do a swanky wine bar. I want to do something relaxed and laid back that students can hang out at and drink wine. I don't want to open a bar that's just like every other bar in town. At the winery I'm currently at we have a lot of live music under a tent with a dance floor. It does very well but it's an older crowd and jazz, brass quartet type stuff.
post #9 of 52
Something like this would be great for the area, though it can be a rather pricey risk. The reality is you couldn't just stick one in downtown Ithaca, nobody would go there. But on the flip side, the areas you would want to have one (Stewart Ave. to the south, but not pushing much past College Ave. in the north) are extremely expensive for rent. The capital needed to finance a place like this would be huge. The commons might be a good area, but not a ton of students will venture down there late at night.
post #10 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
and, with wine, you have to think about how open bottles will keep. if you have a certain number of bottles of wine by the glass, will you be throwing inventory out at the end of the evening?


in general this isn't a bad idea - the execution is what will will make it or break it. I'd try to find a place that is almost identical to what you are thinking of, and work there for a while and learn how they do it.

its a pretty common theme in Argentina, where you have a lot of places that do exactly that - espresso in the morning and wine in the evening, and pretty much nothing else, maybe some simple baked goods.

I honestly don't know that I would have been interested in this when I was 20 - so I don't know that students will be your main market. but you never know. when I was a student, I drank wine mostly at home, and drank hard liquor and beer in bars, I didn't want to pay the mark up on wine. but you never know.

They make inert gas systems that can keep bottles fresh for about 2 weeks. Check out this video and look at their setup. I'm thinking something like this. Scroll down to episode #699.
http://tv.winelibrary.com/
post #11 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbreen1 View Post
They make inert gas systems that can keep bottles fresh for about 2 weeks. Check out this video and look at their setup. I'm thinking something like this. Scroll down to episode #699.
http://tv.winelibrary.com/

You can even get a four bottle, dual temp zone, one for your house. We probably won't do it with the build, but I plan to get one eventually for my home bar.
post #12 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbreen1 View Post
I'm not going for a dance club. It's a college town. You need live bands and music or kids aren't going to show up. All the bars in the area have bands on the weekends and people hang out, some may dance, whatever. I'm going for that with a heavy wine influence. I'm not trying to do a swanky wine bar. I want to do something relaxed and laid back that students can hang out at and drink wine. I don't want to open a bar that's just like every other bar in town. At the winery I'm currently at we have a lot of live music under a tent with a dance floor. It does very well but it's an older crowd and jazz, brass quartet type stuff.

I'm not arguing with you - I know nothing about bars or clubs. I know alot about the economics of business. like I said, I can't think of any wine bars that I know that have dancing. I wouldn't be surprised if the economics of a wine bar and a dance bar are different. I would look into this very carefully before you put money into it. the people I know in the food/drink business are very very interested in the return per table - the more dance space, the less tables you have. the way people drink wine is very different from the way people drink beer or shots.


here are the main questions I would have

1. how much is a student comfortable spending on a bottle of wine in a place like this?

2. if it is "relaxed and laid back" how long will people sit at a table over a single bottle of wine?


you should have a very good feeling how to answer those before you spend any of your money.
post #13 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gomestar View Post
Something like this would be great for the area, though it can be a rather pricey risk. The reality is you couldn't just stick one in downtown Ithaca, nobody would go there. But on the flip side, the areas you would want to have one (Stewart Ave. to the south, but not pushing much past College Ave. in the north) are extremely expensive for rent. The capital needed to finance a place like this would be huge. The commons might be a good area, but not a ton of students will venture down there late at night.

I was thinking the commons. It's full of IC students at night but obviously not Cornell students, which should be my main target since they have 3-4x more students. But you also get the locals hanging out in the commons so I think I could do ok there. Plus during the day on the weekends it's always really crowded down there. My idea is to get the popular local bands to play so I can promote that, hopefully get people to show up, and then hook them in as customers with a fun atmosphere and good drinks.
post #14 of 52
I think most college students drink cheap beer for a reason, and I think that the bars that cater to them make a lot of money for a reason.
post #15 of 52
http://www.napatechnology.com/ws_home.html

Something like this for the house. Cruise the site for the commercial ones.
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