Owning a bar can mean long hours, paying close attention to the details, giving up your weekends and dealing with customers who can become disorderly. But if you have a clear vision, do your research and learn the business, a bar can be a rewarding venture. What you’ll need


According to Silas Lugano, the proprietor of Streams Pub & Lounge, after formulating an idea for any business, the next stage is acquiring capital. Silas advices that sourcing for capital should be calculated in line with profit projections for the business. A small outlet will require at least Sh200,000, an average one Sh500,000 and a larger enterprise can require up to Sh2 million.


“While settling for a location to set up a bar, club or lounge, you will need to consider several factors, including the availability of customers, security, access to power and water, and accessibility. Considering this type of business involves intoxication, locate your premises where customers won’t be struggling getting in or coming out,” says Silas.


Furnish your location to make it as attractive as possible to customers. Start with a space that doesn’t give you pressure in terms of paying rent and meeting other running costs. You can always expand as your business grows.

Source of supplies

Get reliable stockists of both soft and hard drinks to ensure the business runs smoothly. You don’t want to have to tell a customer you don’t have a certain brand. Do your market research to know what products will move most, and stock these. And ensure you have glasses, a display case, seats and tables, which will cost an average of Sh70,000.


You will require mandatory operating licences to run the business. One of the main ones is an annual liquor licence, which costs Sh50,000 in a city or municipality, or Sh15,000 in rural areas. Hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and night clubs pay different rates for similar licences. You will also need to pay for a business permit, health and fire safety certificate, and get environmental and music copyright licences, which cost an average total of Sh15,900 in Nairobi. If you’re not serving food, legally, you should open between 5pm and 11pm on weekdays, and between 2pm and 11pm.


You will need a few hands to help you run the business. Pius Mutua, a co-owner of Shades Pub, says that for a start, three waiters or waitresses are enough to kick off the business. He says that if the proprietor is qualified in matters financial and business management, he or she can act as both the cashier and manager until the business is stable enough to take in more employees. However, automate payment systems so you can track sales. What you’ll not need

Huge space

Elijah Mburu of Success Pub & Rest says you don’t require a huge space to start a pub business. “All you require is the space to start it off and then you can expand a few months or years down the line once your business grows,” he says. A lot of employees You don’t need several employees when starting out. All you need is a few helping hands to ensure your bar is running well. A few waiters or waitresses are enough, and a cashier or manager if the owner is not well versed on financial management.


You don’t have to employ a disc jockey in your bar. For a start, you can sacrifice such amenities for later when your business has grown enough to support this. A music player and a set of nice speakers and woofers will do for a start.

Your social strategy

On Facebook and Instagram Create a Facebook page and advertise your premise there. Upload videos showcasing the services you offer. Consider coming up with creative cocktails – you can search the Internet for some direction – and post photos of these, or advertise drink discounts. Do live videos. Replicate this on your Instagram page.

On Snapchat

Engage your existing and potential customers on Snapchat by giving them up-to-date information on events, new services or products at your bar. This is done by posting photos and videos.

Social events

You can maximise on sales by holding entertainment events at your pub, such as album releases, quiz nights, live bands, hosting guest DJs or a comedy show. You can hold events that don’t require much extra equipment if you don’t have the budget for this.

The expert

“Give your business all it needs to make it a success. Reinvest your profits and get depressed when you experience loss. Be a professional and act as the perfect team leader for everybody involved in running your business. Learn to trust your employees and they will trust you in return.” – Silas Lugano, owner, Streams Pub & Lounge

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