What You Need to Know About Running a Dive Bar

Also called neighborhood bars, dive bars are casual pubs or bars where local residents gather to hang out and drink. It’s a drinking establishment with a rundown atmosphere and appearance. Drinks tend to be of low quality and cheap, but often have high alcohol content. Dive bars don’t have an attractive atmosphere, so many people often go to these places to drink or eat inexpensively.

Regulars like the relaxed atmosphere of dives that’s why they frequent these establishments. Here’s what you need to know about running a dive bar.

Name and Location

As with any other business, you need to come up with a name that will capture the attention and interest of your audience. The location of your dive bar is also important. Choose an old building. Stoops and alcoves on the building’s façade are great for people seeking refuge. You can also move in next to an alley or parking lot. The interior should be free from nooks. 

Business Hours

Open your dive bar before 8 in the morning. If the city codes don’t allow you to stay open throughout the night, you should open your bar as early as possible so that your customers can order a drink before they go to work. You should also operate under the radar. Create a shrewd arrangement to evade your city’s antismoking laws. You can also put up a cash-only dive bar with a disconnected or unlisted phone.

Some Grime is Necessary

Don’t clean the bar too often. This doesn’t mean that you should let pests decay beneath the cushions of your couches, but some grime is necessary. You should also keep the place dark when running a dive bar. Some dive bars are extremely well-lit, but most owners say that dim is the best option.  You can enhance the lighting conditions of your bar by putting bud light signs or Christmas tree lights. Jukeboxes, darts, video poker, pool, shuffleboard and other games can be included as well, but make sure to limit the number of televisions as they affect the sound of jukeboxes.

Drinks and Decorations

Of course, the most important part of the bar is the drinks. Provide only a few types of cheap beer. People come in to drink, but you don’t need to stock expensive wines or beer. You will want most of the beers to be in bottles or in can as taps are hard to clean. As for your decorations, you can decorate the walls with handwritten signs or hang old paintings, dirty taxidermy or yellowing photo collages.

Discourage cocktails, energy drinks, flaming drinks or blended drinks. Encourage shots and beers. It is all about volume in dive bars. This is why their drinks are cheap. If you offer mixed drinks, you’ll earn very little or nothing at all.

To make your dive bar more interesting and popular, you can also create quirky traditions. Some dive bars hold cabaret shows to entertain patrons. You can give freebies to those who will enter your bar such as a shirt with the name of your bar or logo printed on it. Unleash your creative side. These quirky traditions will attract more customers and improve your dive bar’s popularity.

You can also serve “dinner.” Some dive bar owners provide meals heartier than pretzels such as free burgers and pizza to keep their customers longer in the bar. Never serve popcorn if you don’t want to attract pigeons and pests. Serving dinner to your customers is not only a good way to keep them longer in their stools, but also to turn them into loyal patrons. It’s also a good way to establish a good relationship with them.  

Running a dive bar doesn’t require muscles. You need to use your brains. Don’t encourage or be involved in fist fights or other activities that might get the attention of the police. You can call a cab if you have to get somebody out of your place. Another way is to suggest the idea of calling the police. You can get your phone and act like you’re calling the authorities. 


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