Calculating the Total Cost of Owning a Bar or Brewery

Calculating the Total Cost of Owning a Bar or Brewery
Thinking about opening your bar or brewery? Wondering if it's time to expand to another location? Know the full cost of ownership, from startup costs to ongoing expenses.
by Eric Rosenberg Dec 01, 2023 — 5 min read
Calculating the Total Cost of Owning a Bar or Brewery

Any business owner faces hurdles, but last year was particularly challenging for brewers and bar operators. According to leaders at the Brewers Association, rising operating and material costs and increasing competition made growth hard to come by.

That’s why knowing your business costs is critical for long-term success. Overspending or running your business without a budget can lead to significant financial troubles, such as not being able to afford a surprise expense or withstand a slower-than-usual season. These experiences can not only require you to close, but they also prevent you from growing at an ideal rate.

Despite challenges in the industry, your business can still thrive. Oakland-based Ghost Town Brewing Company, for instance, navigated tough conditions by relying on business tools that enabled them to focus on their growth.

Whether you’re planning to open your bar or brewery or, like Ghost Town Brewing, are expanding your footprint, knowing your expenses is vital. Here’s a closer look at what your upfront and ongoing expenses can look like, as well as how you can use your business technology to track and manage these costs.

Typical upfront costs for breweries and bars

Breweries and bars have unique startup costs. Equipment and inventory just scratch the surface of what your business needs to spend. Additional costs include real estate, licenses and permits, and hiring your team. Planning for start-up costs appropriately can help you avoid a cash crunch that takes down your business before it gets off the ground.

Brewery and bar ongoing expenses

You can breathe a sigh of relief once you’ve put your upfront costs behind you, but that’s not all it takes to run a business. Ongoing costs add up quickly, so knowing your costs and determining a budget can help you achieve or maintain profitability. Real estate, staffing, and supplies comprise a large portion of ongoing costs, but you should also plan on other monthly, annual, and periodic expenses.

How Square can help: Managing finances for your bar or brewery

With all the costs associated with opening and running a bar or brewery, tracking them can be a feat. That’s where the ecosystem of Square solutions can come in handy, offering tools to help you run your brewery, bar, or brewpub finances with end-to-end tracking.

Whether selling from a physical storefront or making mobile sales, a trustworthy and efficient payment system is necessary. Square for Restaurants and point-of-sale (POS) systems help you process nearly any transaction, whether with a card or cash. Square for Restaurants is an all-in-one software solution that can manage your bar or restaurant from the cash register to the back of the house. For Ghost Town Brewing, using Square POS and Square for Restaurants helped streamline operations and cut back on training staff or learning the technology. Instead they could focus on their growth.

To handle your team’s payroll, hour tracking, benefits, and payroll taxes, Square Payroll is a competitively priced system that’s easy to use with an intuitive interface. According to the owners of Torch and Crown, a New York City brewery and gastropub, “With archaic restaurant POS systems, it’s like trying to drive an 18-wheeler on a winding road at 200 mph. You can’t make corrections in real time. With Square, it’s like driving a Porsche where you’re able to react and adjust to things. This is so important as we get busier and continue to grow.”

Lastly, as your business grows and you begin to need additional technology, such as accounting software and an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, you can easily access everything you need in one place using integration capabilities.

With a good handle on finances, you can focus on delivering the best quality product and customer experience possible, encouraging excellent customer reviews. The end result? Your business is destined to grow and thrive.

Eric Rosenberg
Eric Rosenberg is a financial writer, speaker, and consultant based in Ventura, California.


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