Of utmost importance is bar location. As often stated Location, Location, Location can make or break a retail business of any kind as it must suit your business style, customers and offer a good deal of daily traffic. Remember the better the location the more it will cost but this is a necessary expense.
For a bar, look for a location near offices, especially high rise offices, in a successful strip mall or near a sports complex especially if you are operating a sports bar. You can have stop in traffic from people travelling to and from these places.
For a corner bar look for a corner location for the obvious reasons that people can see you from two directions which results in a good deal more exposure. This corner location will be more expensive.
Check with your local municipal zone councils to see if you are allowed to operate a bar in the chosen location as most areas have proximity limit rules to schools and churches. If you choose an area that is under development you may have to wait as the population base increases and you will probably need deep pockets for this wait.
When selecting a location below listed are suggested actions when doing so:
Meet with the liquor, wine and beer sales representatives and query them about possible locations they may know of. They are usually helpful as they hope to be one of your suppliers.
Meet with town councils and zoning committees as they will be aware of impending zone changes which may indicate future location possibilities. Public servants are always interested in expanding the tax base and any new business is of interest.
Meet with and join any local bar or restaurant association as it will put you in touch with the existing business climate. Remember that when listening to advice from these folk some of it may be bad advice as you will be a competitor.
Meet with and join the local chamber of commerce as it can provide information on tourist areas, tax and other benefits of certain areas and an understanding of the demographics about the community. There is little benefit of opening a high end wine bar in a working class blue collar neighbourhood.
Drive and walk around any interesting looking locations and talk to people. It is amazing the information and feedback the locals can provide.
Work with a commercial real estate agent or business broker as those that specialize in buying and selling businesses make have inside information that you will find helpful especially if they are familiar with the pub and restaurant market.
It is important to know what to avoid. If there are strip joints and adult book stores near do not consider as you will be aligned with these businesses. If there are permanent or even long term construction in the area avoid because it will be difficult for people to access or park and it will be very difficult to keep your premises clean. Remember construction workers do not drink during a shift and usually go home to shower and change before going out. If the address is hard for you to find, it will be hard for your customers to find.
It is of utmost importance that you consider foot traffic, vehicle traffic and parking in the neighbourhood. It is suggested that you loiter in the considered area and simply note the number of drinking age people moving through the area. Decide where people are going and how you may entice them into your bar. Is there a lot of vehicle traffic and if so is there obvious and adequate (free?) parking in the area close to your pub.
It is suggested as a last test before deciding bar location that you be a pedestrian in your potential business neighbourhood and then act like a commuter to see how easy it is to use public transportation to the pub. Remember that customers who do not drive while visiting the pub will probably spend more on alcoholic beverages than those intending to drive home.
Bar location is everything.