Bonds, Zoning, Leasing, and Security: 4 Important Issues When Opening Your First NYC Bar


You might think that opening a bar in New York City is going to be fun and games. You get to hire cool bartenders, pick out a great wine list, and choose a bunch of trendy microbrews to serve on tap. And that's not to mention how exciting it will be to pick out the sofas, chairs, wall decorations, and other interior-design features. However, it's not all fun and games. There is a lot of bureaucratic stuff that needs to be handled. If you don't finalize the legal things, you won't have a bar at all. So here are four things you need to get taken care of.

Zoning Issues

When opening a bar in New York City, you have to be aware of the rule of 200 and 500. These numbers refer to the distance your bar must be from, respectively, schools or houses of worship and other establishments that sell liquor. There are some loopholes, though. If you are not doing a new build and instead are taking over an older bar that was around before the schools or houses of worship were built, then the place is grandfathered in.


You are also going to want to negotiate a long lease. There are two reasons for this. First, if the bar happens to become a smash hit, then your landlord might attempt to severely jump up the rent if you're negotiating a one or two-year lease. There are horror stories of successful clubs and restaurants operating on short-term leases that have been forced to move locations because the landlords have raised the rent so exorbitantly. So opt for a long lease. If you end up closing the bar, you can always negotiate a buyout.


You have to plan out what security measures you will have in place. Security doesn't just means locks on the front door at night. You will need cameras in place as well as bouncers and ID scanners. The cameras are helpful in the event of a fight. The footage can be supplied to the police and help prevent lawsuits against your staff for breaking up rowdy customers who initiate the violence. Also, cameras can help dissuade employees from stealing. If the bartenders know that there are cameras in the place, they won't be quick to pocket money from the till. Bouncers are important, but it's essential that they not be quick tempered and ready to fight. You should try and get professional doormen that have experience in clubs, not just guys who want to roughhouse drunks. ID scanners are also vital if you want to avoid fines for serving underage people.

Liquor Surety Bond

One of the most important things you need to do is get a liquor surety bond. The bond is required to ensure that you, as the bar owner, will pay the liquor fees and taxes that NY State requires. If you are unable to pay, then the bond issuer is responsible for the amount owned. When you are looking for a bond issuer, it's important to shop around for the best deal. If you don't have excellent credit, then you will definitely need to check for the best rate.

This is a vital part of the process of getting a liquor license. You will not get a license without this surety bond, so it is important to understand the process and find a good issuer. Talk to companies like Alcoholic Beverage License Service to get started.


13 December 2016

Keep Your Home Bar Stocked Even if You Rarely Drink

My wife and I recently bought a new house in a new state, and it came with a large home bar in the basement. Being new to the neighborhood, we were excited when a nice neighbor decided to stop by one day for a drink... I was unprepared for his visit and only had a beer to give him. He casually mentioned he enjoyed scotch but that the beer would do for the moment. To his surprise, the next time he stopped by I had purchased a bottle of scotch to keep on hand just for his visits. He was grateful and we became great friends. I now keep a fully stocked bar and have a drink ready for anyone who swings by! I decided to start a blog to share what I have learned about cocktails and spirits.