Start a Bar in Spain

11 February 2021

Tips to Start a Bar in Spain

Here you’ll find practical information on starting a bar in Spain, including tips on buying an existing bar and starting a bar in Spain from the ground up.

So you won't have to reinvent the wheel...
Everyone likes to eat and drink in Spain! In fact, Spaniards spend a good portion of their money eating and drinking in restaurants, cafés and bars, and so do all the tourists and expatriates who make their way to Spain. According to Wikipedia, “Spain has more bars per capita than any other country in the world.” This means there are lots of bars for consumers to choose from and that your bar is in good company, but unfortunately, that there’s plenty of competition. Yet many people do manage to make their bar work, and you may be able to do so too. Whether you’d like to buy an existing bar or start your bar from the ground up, read on for those important tips on how to start your bar in Spain.

Buy a Bar in Spain

Buying an existing bar in Spain could be the answer. There are plenty of bars for sale in Spain to choose from and that way you won’t have to worry about putting the bar together, buying equipment, hiring staff, creating a winning formula or reinventing the wheel. Most of the heavy work has been done already, but don’t neglect to seek the advice of a good lawyer or you might end up buying something you’ll regret! And make sure you notify your town or city hall (ayuntamiento) when you’re the bar’s new owner. Here are some things you should keep in mind when shopping for your bar: Why do the current owners want to sell their bar? Be sure to find out their real reasons. If the owners are looking to retire or have other life reasons that justify the sale, that’s good. But if the owners are looking to unload a bar that is hemorrhaging money, beware! This may not be apparent at first sight either. You’ll need to evaluate each bar and its financial records carefully. No matter how much potential you may think a particular bar has, turning a money-losing bar into a profitable affair isn’t very likely. Make sure you get a total picture of the bar’s financial health. Ask to see the bar’s financial records and go over them with a knowledgeable financial professional. You need to know what you’re getting into and you don’t want to be surprised if expenses are higher than you thought and/or profits are lower than you expected. Ask the owners if the bar will need any capital improvements soon, repairs or other expenses that won’t be reflected in the current list of expenditures. Does the bar have any debts? If so, find out the exact terms, as you will become responsible for them. Licenses. Make sure that all the current licenses are in order, and don’t just take the owners’ word for it. Have your lawyer verify them. If you decide that you’d like to add something (i.e. live music) that the current bar isn’t licensed for, find out if and how you can obtain such a license; don’t just assume that you’ll be able to.
You’ll need a license for that.

Start a Bar in Spain From the Ground Up

To start a bar in Spain from scratch, you’ll need to start a company (or do what’s sometimes called "going autónomo"). See Companies in Spain: The Types of Business Entities for Companies in Spain for information on the various company types in Spain and how to set one up. Also see Start a Business in Spain on how to start your business here in Spain. Now let’s take a look at what else you’ll need specific to starting your bar: Alcohol License If you’d like to sell alcohol, and you probably will, you’ll need to get an alcohol license from your town or city hall (ayuntamiento). Every municipality has its own requirements and in bigger cities, like Madrid, the requirements may even vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Music Licenses If you’d like to have music in your bar, you’ll need a license for that. There are separate licenses, however, for live music and recorded music – the recorded music license being easier to get. Check with your town or city hall (ayuntamiento) to obtain a music license. Food Handler’s Certificate If your staff will be handling food, each person will each need to have a Food Handler’s Certificate (called a carnet de manipulador de alimentos), which requires attending a course and passing a test. Check with your regional government (comunidad autonóma) on how to obtain this certificate. Menus Make sure that your menus are available in several languages. Spanish, English and the local autonomous language (i.e. Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Galician) would be the minimum, as it may be illegal if you don’t. If you want your menus to be available in additional languages (i.e. French, German, Japanese), that’s just icing on the cake. Resources Here are some possible leads for starting your bar: – A Spanish real estate classifieds site with commercial property for sale, rent, or traspaso – Site for buying and selling existing businesses in Spain and several other countries But whether you opt to buy an existing bar in Spain or create your bar from the ground up, make sure you seek adequate professional, legal and financial advice as you would with any other investment venture, and try to have some fun! Where’s your bar?
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