Skip navigation

March 1, 2021

People love to visit their favourite neighbourhood bar to unwind from a long day, or a long week at the office. The local watering hole is either a quiet place to get away from stress, or a vibrant club to let your hair down and cut loose for the evening. […]

For many people, a local commercial bar is a place to get away and mingle with people you love to see. Like the theme from Cheers, it’s a place that you can go “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.

Now, what if you’re someone eager to build a neighbourhood bar so that you can provide those very experiences to patrons in your community? If that’s your intent, what is the cost of building a commercial bar, and what are the steps of the construction process you will experience? Luckily, that’s what we’re going to answer in this guide.

Cost to build a commercial bar

The cost to build a commercial bar depends on a number of factors. Startup costs are the big hurdle for any prospective bar owner; you can expect to pay as much as $550,000 to rent or lease a location for your bar, depending on the size of the venue. It’ll cost another few hundred thousand dollars if you choose to purchase a location and finance it with a mortgage.

Most of those costs are to finance the construction itself along with all of the materials, labour, permits, fees, and other standard operating costs you’ll need to incur to get your bar up and running. A commercial bar is a larger and more expensive endeavor than, say, building and operating a restaurant bar, which is smaller and only a part of the total restaurant experience.

Location and property costs

The cost to acquire, rent, or lease your property is one of the largest costs that goes into building a commercial bar. And as the old marketing saying goes; location, location, location. The right location can bring in tons of foot traffic, but those areas are far more expensive to establish your neighbourhood bar due to that higher volume of traffic.

Property costs are fixed costs that you can work into your budget without much hassle. Property costs include things like rent, mortgage payments, property taxes, and building insurance 𑁋 both during the construction itself, and after the bar officially opens its doors to the public.

MEP costs

Any commercial venue needs mechanical equipment, electricity, and proper plumbing to function effectively. When designing the layout of your commercial bar, your architect will factor MEP equipment that’s up to building code in the blueprints for the building.

MEP costs are one of the biggest differences between new construction and commercial renovations. Installing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment for the first time is expensive, but logistically easier to do since the work can be done before the rest of the bar space is complete. Renovations are more challenging as you have to work within an already confined space to upgrade the equipment.

Commercial HVAC costs also take up a large portion of your total budget. You’ll have to consider things like ductwork, air handling units, filtration systems, heat pumps, and even more. There’s a great guide you can use to calculate upfront HVAC costs, and get the process started.

Permits, insurance, and licenses

You’ll likely focus your time and energy on managing the direct construction costs themselves as you plan out your commercial bar. But you also need to factor in administrative costs to secure your rights as a business owner to open and operate the bar.

These costs include things like permits filed with your city or local county to register your commercial bar as a business supporting the local economy. You’ll also need to acquire liquor licenses so that you can legally serve alcohol inside your bar once the doors open to the public. Liquor licenses can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to potentially tens of thousands, depending on your community.

Make sure you do your research, and remember to hire a competent commercial manager who has the experience to negotiate the best possible licensing fees with your community. Your commercial manager will even help you negotiate a viable insurance plan with the most affordable rates you can leverage.

Carpentry and millwork for the bar

Of course, every commercial bar needs the structure of the bar itself in order to function as a business. The carpentry and millwork costs to build the physical bar itself are also crucial to your total construction costs as this is the piece of the business that truly makes your establishment what it is for the public.

The beauty of any physical bar space is in its design, and the design should be a custom reflection of how your business will be branded. You want it to have a unique look and feel that represents your business, and that also is warm and inviting to both regulars and walk-ins who want to pull up a stool for a stiff drink at the end of the day.

That’s why it’s so important to use custom millwork designers backed by state-of-the-art woodworking equipment. These types of services, as provided by BUILD IT, deliver sophisticated and, most importantly, personalized millwork designs to make your bar stand out as a unique place for people to come have a drink at the end of a long day.

Strong millwork designs add rich accents, layers, and textures to any commercial space. By using BUILD IT’s millwork services, you can create a smooth and sophisticated bar space, and keep the costs in line by avoiding any subcontracting work that complicates the process and drives up your costs. Simply let our 25,000 square foot millworking facility do the work, and we’ll bring your beautiful bar vision to life with dedicated care and attention.