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Ideas for Running and Promoting a Bar

My niece just bought a bar and is looking for ideas to attract more customers and get the town to know the new bar and owners. I don't drink and would love any ideas someone could give me on what to do for fun and getting the business going. Ideas to liven up the bar and get the customers wanting to come and have fun even if they don't drink would be great.

Needy from Mount Ayr Indiana



In the bars I've visited due to friends who have a band, I noticed the bars filling up quickly with patrons. There are a lot of young unknown bands out there. Post an ad in the paper, or if you have a sign outside, post it there. There could be free nights for any band that wants to entertain. No cost to owner. Those bands want recognition, so they are willing to perform for that, in the hope of getting hired.

Also, you can post an ad for paying bands, but, they have to give you a demo, so you can judge to see if the band is good. One bar I went to, had different bands for different groups. One band played oldies for older folks, another night, they had slow dance type of music. Some nights, they had sing along bands. There are endless possibilities. Entertainment is always a plus. My friends get invited to different bars to do their gigs. They invite me all the time and it is a big difference from bars that don't have that quality.


By Esther from NJ

Happy Hour

These are all good tips and ideas. One that wasn't mentions was a happy hour. It gets people in the bar. Because they are new owners, it might be good to put a sign saying it has new ownership. If the old ownership had a bad reputation, it could be keeping people away. Good friendly service is very important. People like to feel like it is their bar.

This is one area where newspaper advertising is useful. It costs a lot but advertising for a month with an ad in the same place in the paper would probably be useful. Mention in the ad to "Mention this Ad" for 10% off or something like that. Then they know how many people are actually seeing the ad for their information on whether or not the ad is bringing in new customers.


A friend of mine with a restaurant would give out coupons to his employees. They were to only be used by their friends or family and only a one time deal. So much off on an order or a free entree. It gets new people in and family and friends of the staff can be new customers. He would use business cards and write on the back of them so he knew the offer was his. This only costs the discount on what is sold there.

By Susan

Offer Rides Home

If it's a smaller town like the ones around us, then offer a free ride home to people who've had too much to drink. A local bar does this and not only does it let the customer know the bar cares about them, but it also keeps someone from driving a car that had drank too much. I'm not sure how often they actually drive someone home, but it is still a nice gesture to the patrons.


Dance Floor

I don't drink but love to dance and wish more places would make their dance floor and entertainment areas more friendly to those who don't drink. Aside from this you could re-create some shows from TV like American Idol. This would take a lot of planning and effort but would definitely be worth it.

Get local radio stations involved and sponsors for the event. Talk to your vendors see what promotional items they can give you for free. I don't know what your local laws about Sunday's are but you could open the business up to teen night (of course no alcohol). I'm not sure who your targeted customers are and what the vision was when opening the bar.

By Angelique Farmer


I've been a bartender for many years, and even though I have not owned my own bar yet I have managed a few! What you need is a few very simple things. It may cost a little extra but it's so so worth it in the end!


Trust my words. Get some friends, family, staff in fact to get out there and hand out very simple cheap flyers with your bar's details. Name some things your bar offers such as live bands is must if your keen in that kind of thing. Other stuff is ladies night! That's a huge one! it will get your patrons in quick smart. Be gentle on ladies drinks on ladies night if budget permits! It will blow your quiet night sky high!

By Big T

Buy One/Get One Free Happy Hour

I have been managing a small pub for some time. It has always been quiet, putting a happy hour on really helped but what really got customers in was buy one get one free happy hour. You don't really make money in that hour but you've got people in there and they will stay.

By Charlie

Don't Target Teens

Unlike what some of the responses have suggested above, do NOT promote themes or events targeted at people not of legal drinking age. Younger people cannot purchase alcohol. If you compare your potential sales of soda and juice at full capacity, to that of an average night of alcohol sales, they will probably not even be close. Younger people love to party too, which means that they will often show up already intoxicated and will not provide any benefit to your business. Younger people love to fight and start fights, thus you will need to hire and staff additional security to keep everything going smoothly. I have worked in a bar which occasionally would book 18+ events and it was always a horrible night for profits and for everyone who was there. Hope this helps.


By Justin

Pub Quiz

I own two bars, one a honky tonk bar in Brooklyn the other a regular martini bar. One of our busiest nights can be the Mondays which typically you need to work hard on drawing people out. Do a pub quiz, people who drink or not love it. It can be a lot of work but it can be rewarding also, keep the questions fun and pop culture minded, remember your target audience. Another one we are trying and its actually working is a white elephant sale on the Wednesdays, its like e-bay live, people bring there stuff and you have an auctioneer with gabble and all hawk there goods, good to keep it fun. Hope these suggestions might help good luck in your venture.

By Hank

Lighting and Music

I'm just about to manage a bar for the first time. The one thing my boss has always said is the lighting and music creates the atmosphere, so keep lighting low and the music not too loud but loud enough so people can dance if they want and also other people can still hear each other talk.

By Norma

Live Entertainment is a Winner

I own/run a bar in a small yet seasonal tourist area in the pacific. I have found live entertainment is always a winner. Trying this on a week night also helps.

If able to get good bands this will create a regular night for your bar outside the busy weekend nights.

Pub quiz is also a winner appealing to all age brackets, it's lots of work but worth the effort.

Being a Mexican bar, I also sell $2 tacos on Tuesday, they are smaller meals with small margin but it gets them in the door, and am yet to see someone just eat 1.

In previous pubs we also ran a live mic session, either with bands/singers or comedy nights. There's plenty of young talent out there waiting for their 15 minutes of fame. You never know you could give the next big star their break.

By Matt

Hat and Tie Nights

We have a box of random hats for Hat night, a box of tie's for tie night, we have great success with bands, look they are out there! The bar I work at only holds 80 people and its a small community but we have a blast! 80's night is coming up and another one is "oldies" night, all oldies all night. Its almost like a sing along. I am also brewing up an "Air Band" competition.

By Dragas

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