learn about garage bars

Garage Bars: Can You Make Money Serving Drinks To Bar-Goers During The Pandemic?

Despite reopening efforts, many governors are still keeping bars closed during the pandemic. After all, a bar usually contains a good number of people who are drinking and may not be on their best coronavirus etiquette behavior.

As a result, garage bars are becoming a more common occurrence. 

Garage bars are essentially what they sound like. They are garages that have been converted into bars. They provide a place for friends to get together and drink during the lockdown. 

If you are wondering what it takes to convert your garage into a garage bar, read on to find out more.

Garage Bars History

Although garage bars provide a convenient way for friends to get together and drink during the pandemic, they weren’t born from the circumstances the coronavirus has produced.

It is difficult to trace garage bars back to their origin and it’s likely that there were some during the Prohibition of the 1920’s and maybe even before then. However, John Garbarino of Maplewood, NJ may be responsible for these bars becoming a trend that took off in more recent times.

Garbarino’s idea to create his garage bar started when he was planning a birthday party for his wife. He decided to throw an Okotoberfest-themed celebration in the garage. 

His design ideas were inspired by the Spring Lounge, the New York City dive bar where Garbarino met his wife. He cites the lounge as an example of the many iconic bars that are rapidly disappearing. 

Garabino made the necessary electrical and flooring repairs. He built a 14-foot oak bar and added antique signage and a wood burning fireplace. The bar also features dark wood details and a cathedral like ceiling. 

By 2015, the so-named GarBar had become a popular place to hang out in New Jersey. It has its own web site and it inspired many other people to follow suit as several other garage bars were being opened around the country. 

Are Garage Bars a Money-Making Prospect?

The cool atmosphere a garage bar provides makes people willing to take on the work involved. However, these bars are not legal money-making prospects.

You can not get a liquor license to sell liquor out of your home. Therefore, you can not sell liquor at a garage bar. Even though it is a good way for owners to drink cheaply, it will not produce any revenue. 

How Can I Open My Own Garage Bar? 

If you are looking to open a garage bar, the possibilities are limitless. Here are some ideas that may provide inspiration. 

Sloppy Joe’s: One of Garabino’s neighbors were inspired to open their own garage bars, Sloppy Joe’s in his two-car garage. He outfitted the garage with a refrigerator where beer and wine can be kept, a faux brick wall, light up beer signs, a pizza oven and a barbecue grill. However, one rule at Sloppy Joe’s is that no one can come empty handed. This is a great way to cut down on expenses. 

Garage Mahal: A few miles away in Maplewood, NJ, Felix Sockwell spent $100,000 transforming his garage bar into a drinker’s paradise. The bar features a hand painted dome ceiling, a mahogany bar and salvaged windows from Argentina. 

Barport: Another Maplewood garage bar is Barport. Here the owners spent $10,000 to construct a pub on their property. As you may guess by the name, the bar exists in the carport. Plants and an airy gray and white color scheme were added to give it a beachy feel and local beers are served on tap. In addition to being used as a bar, the family also uses it for family parties. 

Steps to Converting Your Garage into a Bar

If you are thinking of converting your garage into a bar, here are some simple steps to follow: 

Clear Out the Garage: Most garages are filled with supplies, knick knacks and more. These will need to go elsewhere if you convert your garage into a bar. Think of what you can throw out, sell or give away. You might even want to have a garage sale to help finance your venture. 

Make the Necessary Repairs: If you garage needs electrical work or if there are holes and cracks in the floors and ceilings, you will want to make any repairs necessary to make sure your garage is safe and looks its best. 

Paint the Walls: There are several things you can do to give your garage a sense of ambiance but painting the walls is key. Think about the type of vibe you are trying to produce in your bar and go from there to find the colors you think work best. 

Choose the Right Lighting: Good lighting will also set the mood in your bar. Nothing will drive guests away more than a harsh overhead light. One idea is to use white ceiling lights to produce a modern monochrome theme. 

Once you have made these basic initial improvements you can go from there to give your space the look you are going for. You can reproduce a vintage look, go for a modern feel, add a sense of exotic luxury or tone things down to make it more of a dive bar. 

What will you be doing to convert your garage into a cool space where you and your friends can hang out?