starting a coffee bar

weebit

New member
Sep 29, 2007
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Georgia
I am in the process of putting together a business plan for a coffee bar. In this niche many say to pick three good ideas for entertainment and stick with those, and if they do well then add something else to the mix. I have a diverse mix of different age people in this area close by, mostly men. The ratio is almost 2 to 1. There are more 20ish and 30ish when it comes to age wise in my area. Lucky for me my competition is scarce. Just one other place which is a cafe. The nearest Starbucks is 24 miles away.

I had thought about setting it up as a starving musician day, a poetry day, and for the life of me can''t think of anything for the third area. I could implement the use of TVs and stereo equipment and have a dance one day or more depending on if it is a hit or not. I also heard of a few having town news and discussions etc of one sort or another. But in my area that may not go well because of the ages of the town people.


But the major thing I wanted to do is have a bar setting, and the only difference would be the fact I would have no beer or liquor. I want my coffee bar to be fun. My workers fun to be around, and not have to worry if someone wants to dance or not. I mean why call yourself a bar and have the patrons sitting around in a slumber? I thought about dividing the area up have one side so the patrons could move around, have fun then have a area sort of closed off with maybe one large table and smaller tables that seat four.

I believe the bar setting would be a hit around here because of the consumers ages, and because I have a base nearby also, and the major hospital in the area also.

I can''t believe they don''t have one here already.


So what should the 3rd thing be? or am I setting up to fail already?
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
In this niche many say to pick three good ideas for entertainment and stick with those

What niche? Who is the "many"?

If you NEED to have any external entertainment, then your business and your coffee is, or will be, suspect.
Sometimes live entertainment is ok, but it's consistently shown that this does little to increase your customer base. It depends if you are looking at sales in a tiny microcosm, or if you are looking at building a stronger base.
Focus on the coffee. Maybe one entertainment.
A definite "no" on any poetry ideas. These tend to end up producing cliques, many political, and the majority don't buy. If you have any entertainment, either have a cover, or a 1 drink minimum. Just because you're not serving alcohol doesn't mean you don't have expenses to cover.
So while I disagree with the need for entertainment of any sort, if you think it necessary make sure to choose something that will increase your customer base and that will draw PAYING customers, not just people coming for XX and you hoping they will purchase something. Entertainment, if added, should be a "bonus", it shouldn't be a necessity for success of your business, or you are headed towards failure--and nobody wants that. Decide how best to succeed without first, and if you want to add later for a certain crowd or niche, then do that, but don't start with "entertainment is necessary" as a premise.

My cent.
 

moonmonkey

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Jun 22, 2004
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Illinois
My response is somewhat different being that I ran a music venue prior to opening a coffee shop. At our shop we recognize music as being a part of the culture that is associated with coffee. We started out slow doing music one night a week and just recently have started doing music on both Friday and Saturday nights. We have focused on doing only certain genres of music and we screen everything before we allow anyone to play. Open mic nights being the exception, which we have the first Saturday of every month. We do not charge for any of our shows. We set this standard from the start deciding that we wanted to offer the area a place to go for great music and have it be a service we offer to our community. On the other hand we never discount our coffee as we see it as something that is worth paying full price for. For what its worth we have gone through a lot of trial in error as far as what to offer and how to ensure the majority of people are at least buying a drink or something. This is sometimes difficult because we have a large patio that we do shows on, weather permitting. Poetry has never gone over very well. We stay away from it now except for on open mic nights but they have to provide their poems before hand so that we can ensure they are not going to get on soap boxes. That's not why we are here. Very rarely do we pay our musicians. All our musicians collect tips and we provide them with free food and drink. We provide them with a great sound system, which is something any type of venue should do for their artists. We go out of our way to make there time here memorable and I would say 90% of the artists we have play here come back. Occasionly we will bring in a artist that we will actually pay to play but it is usually a semi-well known name that we would not be able to get otherwise. For those shows we typically do a suggested donation but we still don't require a cover.
With that all being said, we definitely make more money the nights we have music. Its especially easy to gauge when we have our music outdoors because the people that want to hear the music go outside and those that are there for the coffee and the atmosphere are inside. The nice thing we've seen with the music is that some people will be there for up to three hours at a time and buy multiple things in that time period. The thing about the music is that you can't always depend on it to bring a crowd. Some nights our shop will have a line out the door from 9pm - midnight but we'll only have 5 people sitting on the patio listening to music. It's like anything else you get both the good with the bad with it. I would say that my assistant manager who is now managing the music for me spends half his time on the music and that's only for two nights a week. Mind you we are booked out months in advance now and more often than not the musicians come to us and we no longer have to seek them out.
So after this now very lengthy response my input is offer music for what it is. A service to your customers. But, don't ever lose track of your main focus for being in business. If you are a coffee shop, focus on doing that one thing well and don't let offering entertainment detour you from that. We offer food at my shop and I feel we offer good food but food is not my focus. I do not go around trying to sell lunch to people because one I am not a salesman and two I am not passionate about food. I am passionate about coffee and serving the coffee to the best of my abilities. I love music but I am not passionate about the music. The music ultimately compliments my passion, serving coffee. The food compliments the coffee. Its all about the coffee. Remember that.
 
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weebit

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Sep 29, 2007
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Georgia
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Thank you for your replies.

I had decided yesterday not to go with the poetry, and to stick with just the music. I did some checking out of restaurants in the area, and many of the good ones have TVs in their restaurants. These same restaurants have a good amount of customers, and are even packed at times. So I believe I will go with the Music on the weekends, and TV during the week. I may purchase up to 3 TVs and have sports on one, Soaps on another, and news on the third. This seems to be how the other restaurants are set up as far as programming set up. The main emphasis is on Coffee for my bar. I have no intentions of becoming a full fledged restaurant. There are plenty of those in the area already, and a good variety. There is no coffee bar though. There is a coffee shop, but they sell donuts, and other pastries as well. Locations so far would not permit me to have a outside area. So this could be iffy setting up. Plus major concerns is setting up a band to play that the public can't stand means I may have a night with very few customers to buy coffee. Which could be a disaster if it happens too often. moonmonkey have you ever had a band to flop? Could you share how you handled the situation?
 

Reciprocity

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Oct 5, 2007
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TV''s? That would personally drive me crazy! I know I''m not average as I don''t watch TV in my home. However, when I go in public and there are TV''s going, especially multiple ones playing different things, it drives me batty. JMO. It may work in your area but I would be cautious.
 
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weebit

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Sep 29, 2007
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Georgia
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Most of the ones playing tv sets had the volume not high. I plan to go this route as well. Best way I believe to handle it because I know some don't care to hear it. You can pretty much tell when the crowd wants too really hear the set. If you space them apart from each other a good distance, then it works better as well. I know a couple of them have tv sets all over the place, I plan to just have a few. When I started checking into how to set up I realized that you can't please everyone. It doesn't matter how I do my best to cater to the public, someone wont like the setup. I based my decisions on what works in other restaurants in the area, and how to make it even more enjoyable for everyone. Hopefully it turns out well.
 

moonmonkey

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Jun 22, 2004
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Illinois
Oh yeah Weebit, we've had flops. Even trying to screen them first. It never goes too badly for me because we either have our music out on the patio or upstairs, our shop has two floors of seating. So, there always is somewhere for people to go to get away from the music. I would definitely try to develop a space where people could go to get away from the live music.
I don't know about the TVs either. At least if you're going to go that route try doing it different than what all the other restaurants are doing. Just another opinion. Good luck!
 
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weebit

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Sep 29, 2007
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Georgia
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I got this bright idea of offering sports on one tv, soaps on another, and news on the third. To see what channels work I may play with the channels for a while. This is about the only thing I have thought of as far as content is concerned.
 

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