Opening a bar in Berlin - business help required

Dear All,

My husband and I are thinking of opening a bar in Berlin. We currently do not have any documents regarding health and safety, including license for selling alcohol. The bar will be a business run by ourselves and there is one we are already looking at buying (taking over).

Does anybody know anyone who could guide us a little, at a cost if required, through the minefield of Berlin and German bureaucracy? Or at least point us in the direction of somewhere we can get such help (with not too much German, we are learning bu certainly not as business level yet!)

Thank you in advance,
M and R

Welcome to the Forum :)

My first thoughts are, wow you are brave ;) You are correct the German bureaucracy is a complete nightmare and as I've noticed you are from England the whole system is completely different.

All I can suggest to you is in any negotiations to open a bar you need legal advice, so it's probably it is better to find a lawyer or Notar who can handle the entire package for you from beginning to end along with a tax accountant to take control of the finances from day one. One that specialises in the hospitality industry would also be best.

Just to finish off, improve your German even more.

I wish you all the best. :top:

SimCity is right above:
To start a business (of any kind) in Germany requires not just good German language skills, but also knowledge and understanding of complex legal rules and formalities (all in German, of course).
If you are not near fluent, you need to engage professionals who do those things for you (for a fee, of course).
The thicket of regulations and licenses required is especially cumbersome for (potentially noisy) entertainment spots that serve alcohol and food. On the other hand, there are already many bars and thus profit margins are low (unless you manage to be the "in" place or occupy a specific niche). I'd say go for it only if you have the means to finance the initial outlay, survive a year or more with no profit - and then still have enough for a new start in another field.
Good luck!

All though I can not recommend you a lawyer I can give you a list of English speaking lawyers provided by the American Embassy in Berlin.
(Please take note of the small print at top of the page) … orneys.pdf

Another list can be found HERE.

I also advise not to use cheap online services.

Good luck once more

Statistically, the majority of small businesses fail in virtually all countries. And most are probably started by people native to their country. I would think one should make a list of pros and cons. Do you have experience in bartending or running a bar or food preparation? If so, you might have a chance of overcoming the obvious disadvantage at starting in a foreign country. Maybe. If not, then I would advise against it.

If you take over a place the question is why the owner would sell if it is profitable? Consider the location and look at the books. Past profitability might not stay strong if there are new factors like a new building site that will make the area noisy and unattractive for the next few years. Look at the competition. I've seen lots of places that formerly thrived still go under because a lot close by competition sprung up and put them out of business. Figure out what attracts people to the bar in the first place. Is there room for improvement?

Some small bars tend to survive because the customers like the owner/workers. Will the regulars still come under a new owner? If you are new to the area you cannot count on support from lots of friends and acquaintances. Even with a good concept, most small businesses close due to undercapitalization. Most people go in with wishful thinking and underestimate many of the costs of getting things going. Suddenly there are unexpected repairs or damages or simply not enough money to survive until the business starts turning a profit.

Hey! So did you end up opening up the bar? If yes how was the experience :)

Hey! So did you end up opening up the bar? If yes how was the experience smile.png
-@Sachel Ghani

The post was from 2018 and the poster hasn't been active here since then. Not much chance of getting a response.

Hello Sachel,

Welcome to!

Unfortunately the message of MykeStevens is from 2018 and this thread has remained inactive since then

If you are looking for more information about opening a bar in Berlin, you can add your own discussion on the Berlin forum.


Yoginee team