The wine bar is quiet tonight. It is raining and nobody comes out in the rain to wander from bar to bar, much more comforting to sit at home with your wine in the dry. So I have time too much time to think. Three months in – what have I learned, what would I do differently?
- My first mistake was several months ago when I initially leased the space for the wine bar. I had no way of knowing it would take 10+ months to get the build-out completed and the doors opened but that is irrelevant; I still should have negotiated that the rent payments didn’t start until construction was complete.
- I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter how great your wine selection is or how great your tapas menu is, people want a festive atmosphere. They may tell you that they want to be able to sit and talk while they enjoy their glass of wine, but they will still leave your bar and head to the party bar if they are not entertained.
- There is a steep learning curve to running a bar or a restaurant and you have to run hard just to keep up and even harder to get ahead of the curve.
- There are more restaurant consultants (probably in most towns) than there are restaurants. Even though you are a new business and you have to watch every penny you spend, these consultants won’t hesitate to ask thousands of dollars to show you how to succeed.
- Advertising dollars are scarce, but once again, sales people come out of the woodwork to try to convince you to use their advertising medium to reach the masses. Knowing the right source for your advertising so that you actually reach your target market isn’t easy.
- Sleep is overrated! If you get all of these things (listed above) spinning around in your head, sleep is elusive; but you keep going because of that learning curve and because success is the only option.
- Eating, while not overrated, isn’t quite as important as you once thought. If are looking for a weight loss program, open a bar – guaranteed 20 pounds.
- Your wine list does matter. It is nice to be able to brag about how extensive your list is and even more uplifting to have a master sommelier brag about your wine list.
- Building a group of regulars is important. It is nice to see that smiling face come through the door. It is like having family come visit and it is important to your customers to be recognized and treated like family.
- I have learned that you actually drink less if you own the bar – you can’t drink at work and you are way too tired by the time you get off!
I don’t want to write about the bar very often. I still want to write about wine and the experiences that go along with it. So the wine bar is open. I have survived thus far – a little thinner, a little more knowledgeable about the industry, but still going strong. Good days are really good, slow days are just slow days, not the end of the world.
Cheers, All!!! Thank you so much for all your support while I have chased this dream. If you are ever in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area, pleas come me. You are all like family!