Like any other business venture, you should look at developing an Irish Pub by first considering whether it is financially viable.

The restaurant business is no more or less of a risk than any other business, but it is considered high-risk and therefore you should carefully review whether it is something you can afford to execute at the level you need in order to be successful.

There is a significant difference in cost between opening a regular bar and developing and opening an authentic Irish Pub. While the cost of basic renovation and equipment will remain very much the same in both, additional expense is incurred through the use of Irish Pub Design/Build specialists, both for design and millwork fabrication. To get the right look and feel, we would strongly recommend you review the firms on our vendor page, not because we recommend or endorse them, but because they have vast experience and talent in recreating authentic Irish Pubs.

financial

Many businesses, including restaurants, fail because they are under-capitalized. The simple explanation for this is that while their owners raised enough capital to complete the renovation, they under-estimated the total capital requirement and assumed that cashflow would support the business from day of opening. In reality, what happens if the capital is under-estimated is that the business opens on Day 1 with debts that exceed what the cashflow can support. As a result, pressure can be exerted by creditors, including contractors, landlords to either have bills paid or to foreclose on the business in some way. All of this worry is a distraction from the management of the business, a body-blow to morale and certainly not a great way to start a business.

When planning your capital budget, always verify your estimates by getting actual quotes for equipment, construction, technology, POS etc and always allow for a contingency of at least 10% on your total budget.

Below is a guide to what your approximate costs might be in developing your pub. Please understand that this data is guideline only as site conditions and other variables will affect it.

Conversion of Existing Restaurant with Kitchen HVAC Conversion of New Restaurant Space with no Kitchen HVAC
Total Space  2,000sf – 3,500sf 3,500sf – 5,000sf  2,000sf – 3,500sf  3,500sf – 5,000sf
Guest Space   2,000sf – 3,500sf  3,500sf – 5,000sf   2,000sf – 3,500sf  3,500sf – 5,000sf
1. Kitchen & Bar Equipment  $70K-$100K $90K-$120K $100K-$150K $125K-$195K
2. Flooring & Ceiling Finishes  $10-$20 psf $10-$20 psf $10-$20 psf $10-$20 psf
3. Millwork, Lighting & Decor  $150-$175 psf  $150-$175 psf  $150-$175 psf  $150-$175 psf
4. First Fit Services  $50-$75 psf  $50-$75 psf  $50-$75 psf  $50-$75 psf
5. Architect/Engineer/Permits  $0-$40,000  $0-$40,000  $0-$40,000   $0-$40,000
6. Smallware, Plateware, Flatware   $20,000  $35,000  $20,000  $35,000
7. Pre-Opening Payroll   $8,000  $12,000  $8,000  $12,000
8. Pre-Opening F&B Inventory   $12,000   $18,000   $12,000   $18,000
9. Marketing, Menus, Uniforms   $6,000   $12,000   $6,000   $12,000

Please note that renovation cost for Items 1 & 2 should only be applied against Guest Space.

Some other major variables can also apply:

  1. Whether your location requires an existing liquor, beer and wine license to be purchased or whether it is simply a matter of applying to the state for a license to be granted.
  2. Whether you are purchasing an existing restaurant business in order to convert it to a pub.
  3. Whether your renovation will require the certification of an architect or engineer.
  4. Whether you are inheriting kitchen/bar equipment and/or walk-in refrigeration units when renovating an existing restaurant space.
Conversion of Existing Restaurant with Kitchen HVAC Conversion of New Restaurant Space with no Kitchen HVAC
Total Space 3,000sf 4,000sf 3,000sf 4,000sf
Guest Space 2,000sf 3,000sf 2,000sf 3,000sf
1. Kitchen & Bar Equipment $85,000 $100,000 $125,000 $185,000
2. Flooring & Ceiling Finishes $30,000 $45,000 $30,000 $45,000
3. Millwork, Lighting, Decor $320,000 $480,000 $320,000 $480,000
4. First Fit Services $180,000 $240,000 $180,000 $240,000
5. Architect/Engineer/Permits $25,000 $25,000 $35,000 $35,000
6. Smallware, Plateware, Flatware $20,000 $35,000 $20,000 $35,000
7. Pre-opening Payroll $8,000 $12,000 $8,000 $12,000
8. Pre-opening F & B Inventory $12,000 $18,000 $12,000 $18,000
9. Marketing, Menus, Uniforms $6,000 $12,000 $16,000 $12,000
Total $686,000 $967,000 $726,000 $1,052,000

Depending on many factors, among them site conditions, condition of existing equipment and machinery etc. the cost may fall or rise considerably. However, these would be reasonable estimates under normal conditions.

Finally, a note about capital budgets. Until you receive a quote for a body of work….whether it be millwork, construction, equipment or services….you do not have a real price for what is sought. Don’t assume or let anyone else assume for you that something is going to cost a certain amount unless you can verify it. Where possible, always get two quotes or estimates for work and don’t grant the work to a vendor until you are absolutely certain of what you are going to receive.

Avoiding running out of money is your number one priority and it’s simple if you are diligent and careful. It’s your money, don’t trust others to mind it for you as well as you will.

Owner Insights
My high beverage sales, particularly at quieter times, really help to keep my labor cost down.
Irish Pub Operator | CALIFORNIAView Owner Insights
Fun Facts

Every Irish Pub in the world….no matter where it is…. that pours Guinness draft, receives its Guinness directly from where its brewed in St. James Gate, Dublin, Ireland.

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