Empty pub

Guide to running a pub in the UK

The Great British pub is a mainstay of the national culture that can trace its roots back almost 2,00 years. If you’ve always wanted to join the tradition, you’d be adding to the almost 30,000 pubs and bars in the UK.

Opening a pub is an exciting prospect but there’s plenty to consider before you pull your first pint. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the things that should be part of your plan.

Finding the right location

Location is everything when it comes to running a successful business. Think about the following to pick the right spot:

  • Area demographics – either set up somewhere home to the sort of clientele you envision or tailor your offering to suit the demographics of your chosen location.
  • Footfall – will people be likely to stumble upon your location?
  • Nearby competition – can you offer something different to other establishments nearby? If not, you should look for somewhere with less direct competition.
  • Accessibility – are the premises easy to reach by road or public transport, and are they easy to navigate with wheelchair access and disabled toilets?
  • Safety and security – finding somewhere customers will feel comfortable is crucial.
  • Proximity to nearby attractions – you can take advantage of your location to make it easy for people to drop in during or after a day out somewhere nearby.

The building itself

It’s important to create a space in which people will enjoy spending time. Renovating an old pub can be a good idea as it’ll have that original pub character with modern additions.

If you’ll be converting a building to a new use, look for properties with big open spaces for the bar, good structural integrity and an efficient layout. These features can keep your customers comfortable while making your business easier to run.

What are the legalities involved in pub ownership?

There are a few hoops to jump through to make sure you’re legally compliant as a pub-owning business. Of course, perhaps your first port of call will be to obtain an alcohol license, but your obligations will also differ if you plan to serve food.

Knowing what services you do and don’t plan to offer will help you consider what level of pub insurance you’ll need. You might want to look at everything from public liability cover to stock insurance that can provide peace of mind in case you lose inventory.

Branding and advertising

You could set up the best pub in the country and still not get anyone through the doors if nobody knows about it. Spend time working on your branding and advertising to reach your target audience.

With over 56 million Brits actively using social media, this is the obvious place to start. Set up presences on multiple platforms that can show off your location and highlight events and promotions. It could be the difference between customers choosing you or a rival establishment.

Tips for offering a good service

Excellent service is critical to your success. If it doesn’t meet the standards your customers expect, you risk losing them to a competitor. Some simple ways to provide a dependable service include:

  • Being friendly to all customers
  • Learning your regulars’ names and typical orders
  • Keeping wait times down by hiring enough staff
  • Offering quality food and drinks
  • Ensuring the pub is clean at all times
  • Asking for feedback from loyal customers

Think about the points above before opening your pub and you’ll give yourself the best chance of running a successful business.


Sign up to Staffordshire Living’s monthly newsletter by entering your email below and receive all the latest news, events, special offers and competitions direct to your inbox.
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.