Starting a Rooftop Bar? Here’s What You Need to Know

All you need to know.

June 19, 2023

Rooftop bars have become more and more popular. They offer fantastic views and spaces for crowds to simply enjoy the outlook while sipping on their drinks and socializing with others. Most rooftop bars stay busy all night long. It’s a classy and fun place to kick back, have a drink or two, and soak up the views of your beloved city at the same time.

If you’ve been considering opening up a rooftop bar, there are some things you should know before you do. It’s important to be prepared and have all the details in place before you. Here, we will share some helpful details that you need to know before you start your rooftop bar adventure.

Know the Building Needs

A rooftop bar won’t necessarily work on just any rooftop. There are going to be requirements for access, escape routes, load-bearing needs, and other physical aspects of your space. You may already have a space in mind, but before you commit, look into these details.

The weight-bearing aspect isn’t usually a huge concern, but still, a detail to pay attention to. It may be necessary to reinforce the roof you use as you will likely be adding lighting and other fixtures to the space, as well as supporting large numbers of people too.

Think about how you and your customers will access the roof. Is there easy access, or are you going to have to establish access? It shouldn’t be overly complicated, so consider how you can grant easy access to guests as well as staff that come to your bar.

How can you take steps to protect your rooftop bar from the elements? Remember that you need to be open to make money, so what can you do to ensure you are open as much as possible all year long? There are options.

From here, it’s time to plan insurance and coverage. If you’re wondering, “are roof warranties worth it?" consider the advantages of having coverage just in case something goes wrong. Remember, this is your business! You can have both insurance and warranty coverage, and it may be helpful.

Licensing and Permit Needs

Now that you’ve considered the basics of building requirements and elements, what about your licensing and permit needs? These administrative factors will include things like liquor license requirements, permissions from the building owner, necessary inspections, and any other required permits.

There will be permits required for operations as well as equipment. If you plan to have kitchen equipment, elevators, or other specialized things, these will require inspections. This is a bar, so you likely will be serving alcohol. This means you need to acquire and maintain a liquor license. Where you are located and what your local regulations require will determine what you need to invest in a liquor license. These processes can be complicated and expensive, so just be prepared and patient.

The licensing and permit requirements are often what takes the longest. You will need to do paperwork, and you won’t get everything approved overnight. Be prepared to take time and diligently follow up and follow through until things are complete. Then, follow any restrictions or requirements to avoid losing your license.

Decor and Safety

Once you get the hard things out of the way, it’s time for the fun stuff. Consider safety and decor. Being on top of a rooftop will have certain safety requirements to ensure no one can easily just fall or jump off this roof. You certainly don’t want that liability. Find out what is required for safety and how you can incorporate this into the visual appeal of your rooftop bar.

Decorating is your next step. What type of look are you going for? We recommend keeping your decor fairly simple so you don’t take away from the visual of the cityscape around you. You have a natural visual surrounding your rooftop bar, but you will want to add some elements to make it look nice in the bar.

Here, you have the freedom to make this what you want it to be; you just need to decide what you are looking for. Pull from the spaces around you and what exists in your structure and build up from there. This is a space to really compliment your brand, whether you make it eclectic and crazy or simple and elegant.

Prepare for Budgetary Needs

Owning and maintaining a rooftop bar is very different from a typical patio bar or indoor bar. It can be more expensive to maintain and stock, but the rewards are often very promising too. You will likely need some special equipment and specialized elements or construction, so be sure to plan for expenses. As you prepare your budget, keep in mind that this isn’t your average bar, and prepare for those extra expenses that you may have.

Final Thoughts

A rooftop bar is a great investment as long as you prepare and understand what it requires to be successful. These bars are so incredibly unique and bring a whole new element that really attracts a wide variety of people. Plan carefully, take time to get things in order properly, and your rooftop bar will be a hit!