Bars and Clubs on the secret to opening a new bar

14 August, 2019 by Andy Young

The new Bars and Clubs website talked to owners, managers and partners of new bars from across the country and asked them what is the key to opening successfully.

It’s a conversation many (non-industry) people will have had, the old “let’s open a bar” chat because people think it’s as simple as picking a location, buying the booze, choosing some food and opening the door.


The hours of planning where that location should be, what the theme should be, designing a cocktail list, thinking how long it will take to make each drink, investing in large amounts of stock are forgotten. Not to mention licensing, council applications, staffing and the million other things that can’t be covered in one paragraph.

I had a chat recently with the co-owner of a leading bar group in Sydney and mentioned I had a couple of friends who were looking into opening a bar. He half chuckled, half snorted at me and asked what they did for a living, I told him they worked in TV news and his response was, “there’s no way I think I could rock up and put a TV show together, but people think they can just open a bar. We’d been working in the industry for years before we opened our first bar and that was tough.”

It’s a valid point and I’m sure one many agree with: it’s not easy to open a bar. You have to plan every detail and yet still be prepared for every single one of those details to change and for everything you’ve trained for to change.

So what is the key to opening a bar successfully? Well, rather than asking my two mates, Bars and Clubs turned to those people who have done just that in recent months. Across Australia some amazing bars have opened their doors in the last 18 months or so, and we decided to ask some of those involved: “How do you open successfully and make a splash?”

One great place to start is with the team at Maybe Sammy, not just an amazing bar, but one recently voted as the Best New International Cocktail Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.

For Stefano Catino, Co-Owner of Maybe Sammy, clarity and understanding are crucial.

“We believe you need to have a clear idea of what to do, then a high sense of hospitality. All of our places are based on the customer’s experience and making sure everyone wants to come back,” Catino said.

Preparation was obviously a big part of the process for many of those involved, as Ryan Noreiks, Co-Owner of Fancy Free in Melbourne explains. “For us making as big a splash as possible was our game plan while we learned as much as possible about running a business and working with each other as a team. As well as the day to day running of the bar we held numerous events with chefs and bartenders both locally and internationally.”

For Matt Holding, Partner at Malt and Juniper in Adelaide, it was a mix of factors including what was on trend in his local area.

“Our secret was choosing two spirits we thought everyone could enjoy. Whisky I found to be a growing category for Adelaide, and with the success of local gin distilleries, supporting that category was a no brainer. We tried to make the bar as approachable as possible, comfortable and have nothing but personality behind the bar.”

To find out what Greg Sanderson from The Speakeasy Group, Brett Robinson of Panama Social in Perth and others had to say about the secrets behind opening a bar, head to the new Bars and Clubs website.

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