Be it a German spätkauf or an English micropub, the trend is obvious: European grocery stores are being transformed into pubs here and there. If you run a store or a kiosk – here are the main steps to make it a place to go out to!

1. Make sure it’s worth it.
Does the income cover the converting expenses? Do you feel that you can attract the audience? Remember – a bar relies on the image/conceipt/art directing much heavier than a store. It means, you must know how to attract the audience with something besides a table and a rock radio turned loud. Ask yourself: do you really need that risk? Start the conversion only when you have answered “yes!” to yourself multiple times.

2. Check the regulations!
Running a coffee house, café or restaurant means knowing all kinds of regulations, legislation and taxation. At some point you will face a health and safety inspection, to name a few. So, you need to obtain a copy of the local and county regulations, codes for a restaurant in your area. Don’t forget health and fire department. And if you decided to serve food – drains and sinks for hand washing and cooking needs must be separate in any region.

3. Draw a scheme!
Sketch a rough design of your restaurant layout on graph paper using the footprint of the retail store. Locate any current electrical outlets, water pipes and air vents. Moving plumbing, gas bibs and electrical outlets increases remodeling costs. When possible, use the original location for the utilities to save remodeling funds.

4. Get a john!
WC is almost as important as the food or drinks. In most regions you must have a lavatory in your asset to be able to legally call it a bar. Confirm that the present store water system meets the local restaurant requirements and enhance and update systems where necessary. If not sure – hire a licensed contractor with experience in commercial restaurant work for professional advice.

5. Invite the officials before the civilians!
After the bar is built – arrange for the necessary restaurant inspections by the local building office, health department and licensing office, and whoever else is required by the local laws. The wait may take long – don’t start before each of them approved everything!

6. Make a party!
Let everyone in the hood know about the transformation. Special offers, a block party – whatever gets into your head will draw attention and will turn your customers into bar flies.

Text: Eugene Shapovalov