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Should I open my own bar or invest in a brewery franchise?

So, you’ve decided to open a bar. Or at least you’re entertaining the thought- after all, you’re here, aren’t you? If you’re torn between striking out on your own and partnering with a brewery franchise like Voodoo, you’re going to want to read this.

A hot topic for a hot market

With market analysts indicating a post-pandemic upswing in the industry, many entrepreneurs are finding themselves asking that very question. We’ll go in and have a look at some of the challenges and strengths of the different approaches.

At a glance

Brewery franchise vs. starting bar from scratchOpening your own bar is not without its appeal. The idea of starting your very own business from scratch is alluring to some entrepreneurs wanting to test their mettle.

Others feel that a brewery franchise can be creatively restricting, taking on the role of marketing director alongside existing management duties, despite having no background in branding or advertising. I don’t agree with this failure to delegate, as it is an almost ignorant form of micromanagement. 

That being said, many entrepreneurs, including those without restaurant experience feel compelled to take on this incredible risk. Let’s have a look at some of the pitfalls these entrepreneurs will likely encounter:

Real Estate

Finding real estate zoned for restaurants can be challenging, risky, and expensive. Prospective restaurateurs need to be wary of city planning, zoning and development initiatives that will undoubtedly affect their business.

It is also a competitive space, and independent entrepreneurs can often be outbid by large chain corporations that are sure to be interested in prime space. This is where buying a brewery franchise like Voodoo, and having real estate support every step of the way, can be really helpful. (It also doesn’t hurt that we’re more interested in the funky, second-generation real estates that a lot of these other unimaginative chains tend to overlook!)


As an aspiring independent bar owner, you’re going to need a lot of permits to operate. Obtaining all of the necessary permits is both critical and a notorious headache for owners.

These include (but are certainly not limited to) food safety permits, liquor permits, signage and parking space permits, dumpster bin placement permits, and the list goes on and on and on. I

t’s enough to make anybody’s head spin, and you haven’t even opened yet. Cities seem to love red tape, and it can be very helpful to have the support of a franchise community to help to navigate it all.


“Well, we’ve got the sign out, we’ll be just fine… they’ll be rolling in any day now.” One can pretty much hear the crickets and the tumbleweeds blowing in this scenario, where an independent bar owner has absolutely no idea how to market their watering hole. Or maybe they’re just figuring, “How hard can it be to sell beer? This place will advertise itself!”

It certainly would be nice if it worked like that. 

Voodoo Brewery FranchiseOne pitfall that many entrepreneurs in almost every industry overlook is just how much time and energy and capital you need to set aside in order to market your business. Just because you are opened doesn’t mean people know who you are or what you’re about. 

People only go where they know, so branding really matters. Brand recognition takes time and money to build, it can take years – even decades. Years that entrepreneurs don’t have to wait to fill up their establishment.

  • Start-up costs and failure rates – Well it isn’t rocket science – entrepreneurs can add up those real estate permitting, building and renovation contracts, staff-onboarding, and supplier costs and hope to heck there is still a sizable chunk of change for branding and marketing. 

Even if the prospective bar owner gets all that right, if the research has missed anything, he could be watching the city demolish that old strip mall across the street and be sitting across from a condo-development for the next 5 years, only to have the owners move in and complain about the noise from the bar. The failure rate of new restaurants is a staggering 60%.

Yes, it’s sad but it’s true. Many people who have found their way into some wealth or had it all along dream naively of a charmed existence, and don’t realize the grueling hours, hard work and early-death-inducing stress that comes with owning your own bar.

 The restaurant industry was already a brutal one long before the pandemic threw everything into upheaval, and it has only gotten more difficult with safety restrictions, lockdown orders coming into and going out of effect, and of course the ever-present risk of infection.

Luckily there is an alternative and safer way to enter this tough industry. Franchise Owners enjoy all the perks of a successful restaurant with a greatly reduced amount of headache.

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of investing in Voodoo Brewery franchise ownership.

Lower Risk One of the reasons that a lot of bars fail is the lack of capital. This industry can throw you all kinds of curveballs; maybe a cooler goes down and you lose a store of food, or a passerby crashes his vehicle into the dining room. It happens. Having the backing of a larger brewery franchise, and the support that implies is a far more cautious approach to this (sometimes volatile) industry.

Customer Base and Brand Recognition If one were to look up a step-by-step guide to building a restaurant or a bar, the first step would be to come up with a brand.

People don’t buy products, people buy brands, they buy what a brand is associated within their minds. It takes years and loads of capital to build a strong brand that attracts customers.

brewery franchise and supplier Franchise Owners reap the rewards of years of work put into a franchise by the Founders and other Franchise Owners in the system. This is the biggest obstacle to overcome for any bar, restaurant, or brewery. Getting that association is the key to success, and it is already done for you when you buy into a franchise.

Collective buying power – This is a great perk that saves Franchise Owners a lot of money starting out. As an independent, you are far more likely to be bullied into higher prices by suppliers who don’t care if you take your business elsewhere.

When you are a part of a large brewery franchise corporation, however, bar-owners have better deals negotiated for them because suppliers are more willing to make deals to keep a larger amount of business around. And if you’re a Voodoo Brewery Franchise Owner, your supplier IS your franchise corporation- we make all of our award-winning beer right at our Meadville, PA compound, then ship it all over the country for Franchise Owners to have on tap. There’s no need for you to scramble to strike deals with suppliers, as you would if you owned an independent bar. We’ve got you covered- all you have to do is sell some of the most in-demand, celebrated brews in the craft beer industry…think you can handle that?

Franchise community – Fools rush in, as they say. Having an entire community of Franchise Owners, not to mention a hands-on support team to reach out to is indispensable for entrepreneurs making their way. The benefits of collective experience range far and wide, and Franchise Owners know that they have support, no matter what situation the industry may throw at them.

A safer way to an exciting new career – It may have been easy to decipher from the former section; however, it is worth stating that independent restaurateurs need to know what they are doing to have a hope in heck of surviving.

 Buying a franchise through an already well-established and dynamic brand like Voodoo Brewing is a safer way to invest in the dream of running a craft brewery, without necessarily having experience managing a restaurant.

As long as you can embrace the tried-and-true business model and learn a thing or two that the Franchise teaches, it is possible to live the dream of running an award-winning craft brewery franchise like Voodoo, at a small fraction of the risk of opening an independent bar.

Visit our site for more information on owning a Voodoo Brewery franchise.



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