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Career musing - Peter Hentges

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September 11th, 2005

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10:54 am - Career musing
On my way down to the pub last night, I was struck by one idea of what I could do for a living: I could open and run a bar. The name for it even popped into my head: Whiskey Pete's.

This, of course, brings up all sorts of questions. What does it take to open a bar? How would I make it profitable? Do my ideas of what makes a good bar make one that would attract the sorts of people I'd like it to?

I also got to thinking that maybe what I want is more of a private club. Something along the lines of the Member's Rooms of the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society. I wonder how many of the regulations that apply to bars I could circumvent (things like closing times, allowing smoking if I wanted to, etc.) by being a "private club," if any?

I've often said that one of the things I might do when I retire is open a bar. It would have no signage indicating it was such but if you were the sort that should be there, you'd know where it was and would be welcome. My fantasy retirement bar has chess and go boards, shelves of books, a place for performance and lighting and acoustics that work well for acoustic performances. I would stock nothing but the best of the various offerings. You want a Budweiser? You better mean the Czech version, because you're not getting the American version here.
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Feels Like Rain--John Hiatt--The Best Of John Hiatt

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:September 11th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
Not a bad idea. I expect the most difficult part would be dealing with all the rules & regulations & other stuff. Sounds like you want to run an old fashioned pub. That would be cool, because the world has way too many sports bars/meat markets/loud dance clubs.
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Date:September 11th, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC)
Something much more like an old-fashioned pub, yes. Only, maybe, more so. And maybe mixed with a bit of "neighborhood bar" flavor.
Date:September 11th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
My friend Kenny opened the Artists' Quarter with not too much money about 10-11 years ago. Problem is, bars actually don't make gobs of money, except for a few exceptions. Like if you have something that attracts gobs of annoying drunk stupid frat boys who say "whoo!", which probably would make running it less fun.

I've always thought that god forbid I win the lottery, I'd definitely open a bar.
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Date:September 11th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC)
Well, gobs of money isn't my priority. I would like to make enough to have the bar break even and leave me enough to pay my mortgage and bills, but not all of that would need to come from the bar itself.

If at all possible, I'd like to talk to your friend Kenny. Maybe we could hook up and head down to the Artists' Quarter some time.
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Date:September 11th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)
Not to discourage you, but from the point of view of everybody I know who has opened a bar or restaurant and been willing to talk to me about it, the single most important ingredient necessary to open a bar or restaurant is either masochism, ignorance, or stupidity.

Okay, maybe I am trying to discourage you, just a little. I was talking with Bob Johnson, a couple of weeks ago, at Loring Grill, and his advice was, "if you're ever thinking about opening a restaurant, don't." And this is from a guy who really enjoys owning and running a restaurant.

Just by the way, if I ever win the lottery big enough, I will open a restaurant. I think it would be inordinately cool to have my own restaurant... but the numbers suggest that even people with lots of experience in the trade often fail. (And I think that when people succeed, it's a combination of good location, careful planning, real budgetary and people-management skills -- and lots of other stuff -- and luck. I think it may be possible to arrange for all but the last.)
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Date:September 11th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
Yep, I've heard much the same from lots of folks over various times, too. (And about various lines of work.) This isn't something I'm going to leap into without a lot of research and planning and am open to that research saying "Nope, it's not going to work." On the other hand, I'm also willing to pour a lot of effort into it which may make up for some of the factors that lead to the demise of some places. That may be masochism, but I'm OK with that.
Date:September 11th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
My friend Dave's friend Ty recently purchased and re-opened Eli's (around Hennepin and 12th, I believe). If you'd like to try meeting with Ty, I could ask Dave to act as matchmaker?

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