Difference Between Bar and Restaurant Business Plans
Sometimes on this site we talk about restaurant business plans and sometimes it will say bar and sometimes both. Does it make a difference? Under the surface of the labels, there is very little difference in which one you are working on and clearly there is a huge overlap—what is the difference between a restaurant that serves alcohol and a bar that serves food?
If you are starting a bar we have a product just for that purpose but the point here is that you can start a restaurant with alcohol or a bar that serves food using either of the products.
There are only a few places where it really matters. One is in the perception which is that a bar is more “adult” than a restaurant and in some cases as a result it will be harder to find funding and there are even banks that won't lend on bars even through they will lend to restaurants that serve alcohol.
The second place it matters is in the marketing. People generally judge a restaurant by the food first and ambiance and service second whereas with a bar they judge the ambiance first and the food and service are less important (but that doesn't mean they don't matter or that you can forget about taking care of them!).
The motivation to go to a bar is more social and significantly different than the motivation for going to a restaurant. What this means is that a restaurant attracts people with the menu and a bar attracts people with its ambiance and you need to keep that in mind as you do your business planning and marketing plan.
The third and least important difference is just in the layout and equipment required and again depending on the type of restaurant or bar this may overlap completely anyway.
Beyond these minor differences everything you will read and learn here applies to both types of businesses so there really aren't any points where you skip ahead because you are one or the other—sorry!