I want to open an Irish coffee house

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#1 Posted by DarthTraitor (27 posts) -

So I’m wanting to open an Irish coffee house. The idea is that people can come in and order from different types of coffee and whiskey. Do you guys think this would be a good idea?

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#2 Posted by DocHaus (2771 posts) -

@darthtraitor: Uh...sure, I guess? I do like Irish coffee on occasion. Seriously though, not sure a relatively dead forum on a video game website is the best place to ask.

What I can give you are the basics you need to consider before moving forward: Do you have a good location with an open space in mind, in an area with potential customers who would be interested enough to either walk into your shop or drive there? A good name for your shop-to-be? A business plan you can present to get financing? Knowledge of what permits you'll need to open up shop in your chosen locale and keep it open, especially if the place is selling/serving alcohol on the premises? Do you have a concept for the design of the coffee house itself? What equipment and staff you'll need to run the place? A plan to market the shop around the area once you do have all those other things in place? The energy to keep it running 7 days a week (at least until it gets off the ground and you can hire an assistant)?

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#3 Posted by Rigas (848 posts) -

I've been self-employed for over a decade now and people have asked me for advice like this. So I'll tell you what I tell them. It's going to be hard, really hard. First, an idea isn't worth anything. You need to do a feasibility study and draw up a business plan. These are your roadmaps. These will help you see any bumps in the road or obstacles. Yes, it sounds boring, it can be. But you can't dedicate your time and effort to do it properly you will never be able to take running a business.

Any is possible to succeed, a plan will increase the odds, but not guarantee them. If you have a good business plan and feasibility study in place it makes you seem like a much lower risk to investors or banks giving you a loan.

Honestly, it sounds like a very hard idea to make successful. Coffee shops are already an extremely crowded and difficult niche to get off the ground with usually very small margins at the beginning. A well run and established coffee place will print money but for every one of them, there are 500 that don't make it past six months. You want to make this even more complex by adding an alcohol license on top of it. You will then have to comply with all the laws and extra costs of this. Anyone under 18 or 21 (depending on where you are) are immediately removed as potential customers. I'm not 100% sure on this but you'd have to check your local laws but your employees who sell alcohol will also have to be over a certain age. So the after school young person barista is out of the question. That greatly increases your salary costs.

Do you have experience running a business or working in similar industries like this? It has a lot stacked against it, so it would honestly turn me off as an investor unless the person pitching it had the experience and track record behind them to make me believe it.

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#4 Posted by DarthTraitor (27 posts) -

@dochaus: I haven’t really come up with a game plan yet. So far I’ve just got a name for it. I want to call it Mitchell’s (my last name) Irish coffee shop. I have thought about location but right now I’m just trying to get an idea of how many people would actually be interested in Irish coffee. I know I would need to have a good business model. As far as licensing goes, I’m not too worried about that. My main concern is pitching the idea and getting funding for it.

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#5 Posted by DarthTraitor (27 posts) -

@rigas: I figured opening up a coffee shop would be pretty difficult since it is a very competitive market. I’m sure I would need to think about having things there besides just whiskey and coffee. Maybe I could make it a restaurant too, with authentic Irish food. The concept that I’m going with is that will basically be a coffee shop mixed with a bar. So I’m not worried about the age restriction. I don’t have experience running a business. I do have managerial experience but I’m not sure that would make me qualified.

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#6 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3897 posts) -

@darthtraitor: Where are you based and thinking of opening it?

Irish Coffee isn't really a thing in Ireland. We have it sure, but it's not something that you find all over the place or that we'd claim to have the best in the world of.

And Irish food isn't exactly known for being a culinary delicacy, it's mostly just meat/fish and veg. None of it goes well with Irish Coffee either.

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#7 Posted by rocketblast0063 (324 posts) -

This is a question for Business Dave, be sure to catch him on UPF next time!

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#8 Edited by DarthTraitor (27 posts) -

@jesus_phish: I was thinking of opening it up in a suburb of Katy, Texas.

Yeah I think Irish coffee is more of an Irish American thing.

I was going to have hash browns, shepherds pie, and other things of the like on the menu.

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#9 Posted by Rigas (848 posts) -

@rigas: I figured opening up a coffee shop would be pretty difficult since it is a very competitive market. I’m sure I would need to think about having things there besides just whiskey and coffee. Maybe I could make it a restaurant too, with authentic Irish food. The concept that I’m going with is that will basically be a coffee shop mixed with a bar. So I’m not worried about the age restriction. I don’t have experience running a business. I do have managerial experience but I’m not sure that would make me qualified.

As someone who lives in Ireland and eats "authentic" every day, its not that exciting or much to write home about. Irish Coffee isn't a huge thing over here either.

You said you aren't worried about licencing, but that's the first question any investor or loan manager will ask you, so maybe be a little concerned with it.

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#10 Posted by dudeglove (13778 posts) -

Irish coffee is like a niche revolting cocktail, not a thing to base a business on

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#11 Edited by frytup (1344 posts) -

@dudeglove said:

Irish coffee is like a niche revolting cocktail, not a thing to base a business on

Yah. Unless the OP is living in the world capital of Irish coffee lovers, I can't imagine there being enough demand for this to go anywhere. Maybe doing a local market study would yield some useful data, but there's a vast difference between people checking "yes" on a "would you buy Irish coffee" survey and people actually doing it regularly in real life.

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#12 Posted by SethMode (2052 posts) -

I always thought Irish coffee was just what you did if you wanted to get ripped at work or at breakfast or something without people knowing. I didn't think a lot of people truly enjoyed it.

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#13 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7649 posts) -

If you live in teh US getting a liquor license is an added expense and legal struggle to just opening a coffee shop. It all the headaches of the legal hoops setting up a bar, but then your drinks have to be under $8 because of how people perceive coffee. There is just an expectation of what a bar is and what a coffee shop is in the US; the pricing, clientele, and all the rest are at odds.

So better to start a Wine Bar (unscale bar, slightly more imaginative clientele off the bat) and then also serve alcoholic coffees and fruit drinks as a weird hook. So you would serve wine, whiskey (scotch, rye burbon), coffee drinks, and Mimosa & Spritzer To accompany those drinks, cheese, fruit, crackers, nuts, various boozy desserts. Don't get me wrong...a Wine Bar would be an VERY hard restaurant/bar to get off the ground in most places - very niche. But, a Coffee House-Bar is not even a thing...that would fail even in Seattle without ton of luck.

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#14 Edited by DasaKamov (1158 posts) -

As someone who currently manages and operates a bar, I'm going to agree with the other posters, here: as it stands, a bar focused primarily on Irish Coffee is a *very* hard sell; although our West Coast demographic is possibly different than yours, I can confidently say that I've *never* had a guest in the past 12 years come up to our bar and say, "I just REALLY want an Irish Coffee". Usually the only time they're sold is a few days before, during and after St. Patrick's Day, and even then, only if they're pretty aggressively marketed.

@MonkeyKing1969: I'll add the caveat that Beer and Wine sales usually require a separate license from "hard spirits", so in most states, you would *not* be able to serve whiskey in a Wine Bar.

@DarthTraitor: You don't need to trash the idea completely, though! Since it sounds like you wanted to feature Irish-type food items as well, you may consider opening an actual Irish Pub, and differentiate it from other possible competitors by offering a variety of twists on the classic Irish Coffees as Happy Hour specials, or promotional deals.