The Spirit Merchant Trading Company is a South African retail website designed by bartenders for bartenders. We specialise in the sale of unique, quality bar equipment and specialty spirits & liqueurs.
What You Need to Know About Opening a Bar in Florida
When you hear “Florida”, there is a good chance that the acclaimed nightlife is one of the first things that comes to mind. Visitors from all over the world come to the state for a good time with beautiful weather. It is a much-loved destination for students on spring break; many older people also opt to retire in the sunshine state, and then there are the locals!
Due to Florida’s worldwide reputation, it comes as no surprise that there are always new bars and restaurants opening up. All over the state, establishments are looking to bring something new to visitors and residents alike, and many of them end up being incredibly lucrative.
If you are looking to open a bar in Florida, read on for four things you must know.
1. Ensure the vibe of your bar goes with your new neighborhood.
Even the greatest bar in the world can be a disastrous undertaking if it is located in the wrong neighborhood. In order to find the perfect spot for your new business, you need to spend some time getting to know potential areas and building up your understanding of local demographics. Keep in mind: You need to select a spot near the people you yearn to attract.
During this research phase, make sure to acquaint yourself with the local competition. You want to see what is working in particular neighborhoods and whether you can bring something new and dynamic to the area.
Once you have found a neighbourhood that matches the vibe of your future bar, you can then start to narrow down the physical space itself. In addition to the inside area, keep in mind parking and public transportation options.
2. You need to apply for a liquor license.
Every business in Florida that wants to sell alcoholic beverages must apply for a license. There are a few Florida liquor license types: a consumption-on-premise license, a package license, and a quota license.
When looking to open a bar in Florida, you are going to want to apply for a consumption-on-premise license as this allows patrons to consume wine or beer in your space. Additionally, you are going to need to apply for a quota license so that you can sell liquor.
However, there is a limit to the number of quota licenses that are given out, and it depends on the number of inhabitants in a given area.
The process for obtaining a liquor license can take a long time, so make sure to apply for it at least half a year before opening your bar.
3. But, you can lose your liquor license.
After spending so much time, energy and resources on obtaining your liquor license, you want to ensure that you can keep it for as long as you have your bar. However, liquor license laws are strict in Florida, and so it is up to you as the owner to ensure that you are running your bar in accordance with the rules.
Make sure you establish and maintain your serving times. Legally, your bar is permitted to distribute alcoholic beverages any time between 7 a.m. and 3 a.m. the following day, from Monday to Sunday. Ensure that you give your employees full training so that they know the rules and also understand how to handle any issues that may arise when you are trying to close.
In fact, you want to guarantee that your employees know how to stop serving drinks to those who are too inebriated, and how to prevent disorderly conduct. Communicate with your staff to envision how your bar can sustain a welcoming, positive reputation in the neighborhood.
Always check IDs as individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed to go inside a bar (unless their parent or legal guardian is with them) and those under 21 are not allowed to consume any alcohol.
4. Recruit the best staff.
When it comes to opening a bar in Florida, one of the most critical aspects is recruiting the best bartenders and staff possible. After all, no matter which city you open up in, there is going to be plenty of competition.
In order to find quality bartenders, your strategy should be to use a combination of networking events, online job postings, and even an old-school “We’re hiring” ad on your bar window or on your Instagram page.
When it comes to recruiting potential bar staff, ensure that you have enough financial stability that you will be able to pay them a competitive salary. Additionally, make sure you are creating a team culture and morale from the get-go and show potential employees how important that will be to the team.
This is how you will recruit the best staff which, in turn, will help bring customers back to your bar again and again.
Are you looking to open a bar in Florida or somewhere else in the world? What are the most significant challenges you are currently facing? Let us know in the comments below!
Richard Bantock is the President of Liquor License Consultants, Inc. (formerly known as The Liquor License Guy) which specializes in the purchasing and selling of Florida liquor licenses. For 20 years, he successfully operated liquor store, nightclub, bar and restaurant companies, gaining first-hand knowledge of business planning, financial negotiations and the liquor licensing process. Liquor License Consultants, Inc. reflects his insight and expertise.
With so many amazing bar shows happening throughout the year globally, how do you actually decide which ones to go to? We combine fun with networking and training into the below list of 12 must-visit international bar shows.
Tales Of The Cocktail
This premier, festive cocktail show takes place every year around July in the colorful NewOrleans, with over 300 events taking place in just 6 days.
The week-long event consists of a variety of top-notch bar industry educational seminars (hosts are selected by an international panel of judges), networking events and tastings.
Attendees of the festival include majority trade bartenders, however, it’s not exclusive of bar guest attendees. Since the who’s who of the bar industry attend this festival, it is the perfect opportunity to rub shoulders with industry greats, and really extend your networks.
What’s great about this show, is that you are able to create your own experience, in selecting the seminars that appeal to, and will benefit you. You’ll need to purchase individual seminar tickets and if you buy more than $150 worth, you’ll get free entrance into tasting rooms and additional events.
Business aside, there are mind-blowing parties designed for just for us bartenders to let loose in front of the bar for a change!
Bar Convent Berlin, affectionately dubbed as BCB, takes place annually around October. This 2-day trade fair expects a whopping estimated 12,000 visitors this year – the majority being German and European trade, but definitely not limited to.
Many international trade bartenders attend the event, making it of the leading international bar shows. With over 1000 brands and exhibitors, there is certainly no shortage of opportunity to experience new products, network and expand your knowledge within the industry.
Tickets to the event cost 45 Euro per person for a 1-day ticket, and 65 Euro for the full 2-day event. No tickets are sold at the event itself, so make sure you purchase yours online in the BCB Ticket shop.
Attendance at the seminars and tastings are first-come, first-serve basis – so punctuality is highly recommended.
London Cocktail Week
The London Cocktail Week is dubbed the largest cocktail festival in the world, taking placeannually around October. The festival has officially gone digital now, so by purchasing your Digital Pass online (10 Pounds), you’ll then have access to unlimited cocktails throughout the week; discounts in various events, bar and restaurants, and tickets to the cocktail village.
All the participating venues are listed here, so you can roughly plan your week (You may stumble a few doors down by mistake so prepared to be flexible!)
Being a trade member will qualify you for a discount, so take advantage. An impressive 25,000 visitors attend this cocktail week so best get your pass ASAP!
Tales on Tour
Tales on Tour is as its name suggests – Tales of the Cocktail touring the globe. They’ve consistently ventured across America and will now be going into Europe for the first time this year. The 5-day event will be taking place in Scotland and will consist of educational seminars with cocktail touring across the Scottish horizon at night.
All-inclusive tickets cost around $329 and this gains you entrance to all seminars (you will need to RSVP to other events to ensure you are allocated a spot)
The Athens Bar Show is not limited to bartenders but also targets all bar professionals – whether you’re a bar manager, hotel managers or distributors. This 2-day event happens annually around November (So if you’re keen, book your tickets now). You can pre-purchase a 2-day ticket for 30 Euro or get one at the door for 40 Euro.
Around 8,000 visitors attend this awesome event, consisting of bar solutions, hundreds of product tastings and the latest industry trends and techniques.
For non-English presentations, headphones are available to don’t worry if your Greek isn’t quite up to scratch!
Imbibe Live takes place around July annually and is an extensive, action-packed 2-day trade exhibition across all alcohol categories.
This one is also a big one (Europe’s largest trade exhibition) with around 12,000 visitors.
It also follows the general programme of bar shows – fantastic educational seminars (both business and drink orientated), tastings (including a splendid bounty of new product launches) and of course discovering the latest trends within the industry.
The beauty of this exhibition is that it really does cover all aspects of the industry from equipment to food and of course, drinks products.
If you’re looking to network, learn more about the industry or hone your knowledge or skills on certain topics and network with fellow professionals – this is the place to be.
Singapore Cocktail Week
Singapore Cocktail festival takes place around May every year for 11 days (this is split into the actual event, as well as events around the city). It’s aimed at both bartenders and cocktail lovers.
The event includes cocktails tastings and introductory classes as well as masterclasses and food pairing workshops. Expect to see celebrity guest bartenders as well.
You’ll also get to see 45 of the best drink spots on the city with a cocktail passport. Tickets start at $28.
Perfect Serve Bar Show
This annual bar show happens in Amsterdam takes place around the end of May. It’s definitely the place to be to keep up with drinks trends and catch up with industry mates. If you register as a partner, you can take advantage of the discounts.
Portland Cocktail Week
Portland Cocktail Week is an educational program for bartenders who are looking to take the next step in their career. Over 300 students will be accepted into the program and, of those, a small percentage will be given a scholarship that covers their accommodation. What’s so fantastic is that you can choose 3 out of the 6 available majors:
Bartending and Hospitality
Bar Ownership and Management
Science and Technology
If you’d prefer, you can also just sign up for a festival pass. That will get you into all events and classes on a first come, first serve basis.
Imagine spending a summer camp with 300 bartenders in Kentucky, US! It is as it sounds. Take a look for yourself. This insane event is sponsored by a handful of whiskey distilleries includes a week of visiting these distilleries and learning how to distill the all American favorite spirit.
But in addition to the educational aspect, there is plenty of typical American camp activities like dance parties, cocktail competitions, and bikini contests.
Over 1000 applicants apply to attend this awesome camp, so if you’ve been one of the lucky 300 to attend – let us know what your experience was like. The camp is run by Portland Cocktail week.
Venuez takes place in Antwerp, Belgium and this 3-day event looks at both Belgium and international trends with leading bartenders and entrepreneurs in hospitality. You’ll be exposed to all trends and topics relating to food, drink, and design.
So if you’re an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry, this event is for you. Take a look at what to expect.
SA Cocktail Week
This annual week-long showcases some of our amazing cocktail culture and community(Yes we’re biased!). What’s great about this event is that you’ll get to experience different bars and their signature cocktails (which will be on a 50% discount with your event wristband).
There’s drink tastings, activities, networking and even competitions with great prizes. Take a look.
If you’ve attended any of the above, or are looking for more bar shows to attend, visit this link.