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Sarah Ward

Dive Bar Ideas: 15 Ideas to Open a Great Dive Bar Business

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When you’re opening a dive bar business, dive bar ideas drive a lot of what you work on. From dive bar food ideas to upselling techniques to menu design ideas, there’s a lot you’ll lean into. Using the right ideas will enhance customer experience, and increase customer satisfaction

In this BinWise blog, we’ll take a look at many of those right ideas. From event plans to general theme dive bar ideas, we’ve got you covered. These ideas can work for all types of bars, but they’re especially helpful for dive bars. They help with everything from customer acquisition to joining the ranks of the best bars

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Themed Dive Bar Ideas

Themed dive bar ideas are a pillar of the design of your dive bar. You can do themes for specific events. Primarily, however, these ideas serve as the baseline of design for your bar. These five ideas for themed dive bar plans can work for a variety of dive bars. Some are location-based, some are more general, and all can be twisted to fit your bar.

5. Retro Bar

A retro bar–complete with checkered booths and an old payphone–is an easy fit for dive bars. This dive bar idea will draw in a comfy crowd.

4. Beachy Hideaway

A beachy hideaway is perfect for any location near the beach. It can also be perfect if you’re looking to create the illusion of a beach nearby. We recommend beachy artwork and seashell decor.

3. Tropical/Tiki Bar

A tropical or tiki bar is another theme of dive bar ideas that is suited for a beach location. You can create a tropical vibe with tiki torches and Mai Tais as your specialty drink.

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2. Western Saloon

A western saloon is a unique and fanciful option among these dive bar ideas. Set with creaky barstools and some spurs in the design, a saloon is kookie and delightful. 

1. Sports Bar

A sports bar is often its own category of bar, but it blends perfectly with dive bars. The key need is several TVs, to show every game on.

Dive Bar Ideas for Special Events

Dive bar history shows us that dive bars are a place where people like to celebrate and have a good time. For dive bar business owners, leaning into this with special events is one of the best dive bar ideas. These five ideas, from live music to trivia, will draw in a wide-ranging crowd for your dive bar.

5. Live Music Events

Live music events are among the most community-minded dive bar ideas. When you host these events, you’ll reach more than just your clientele, you’ll reach the music fans as well!

4. Food Festivals

Food festivals are a great way of building your community and securing your place in it. The best option is to work with local food trucks and pop-up restaurants

3. Trivia Contests

Trivia contests are a bar-crowd favorite event. Hosting regular trivia nights will bring in the best crowds. 

2. Local Artist Events

Local artist events can cover a wide range of dive bar ideas. You can hang up art from local artists to bring in unique customers. You can also host a sip and paint night with an artist in residence. 

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1. Movie Nights

Movie nights are a classic for any type of bar or, frankly, any hospitality business. You can ask customers to vote on a few movie options through social media, then play the preferred film on a projector screen.

Classic Dive Bar Ideas

You can never go wrong with classic dive bar ideas. These upcoming five ideas can work for any bar. Whether you have a theme for your bar or you’re one of the oldest bars in America, this ambiance will fit your space. 

5. Pool and Darts

Having pool, darts, and perhaps shuffleboard, is something every dive bar benefits from. People come to dive bars for the experience just as much as the drinks and food, and these billiard options will enhance that experience. 

4. Chalkboard Menu Specials

A chalkboard of menu specials is a cheeky way to display your menu. You can use it for every day drinks and specialty meals. 

3. Signature Shots

Some signature shots will mix up your menu offerings and make people want something unique from your bar. You can make them up, or give your own names to unique mixes you already know.

2. Local Brews

Featuring local brews on your menu will bring in a more diverse crowd. Adding craft beers is always a good idea.

1. Regular Happy Hours

Hosting regular happy hours, with happy hour drinks on special pricing, is a consistent way to market your bar. Daily happy hours are one of the best options. 

"Key Takeaway: A good dive bar is marked by qualities of coziness, no pretense, and a budget-friendly menu. These are, at the heart of the matter, all a dive bar needs."

Frequently Asked Questions About Ideas for Dive Bars

There are many ideas that go into owning and operating a successful dive bar. These dive bar ideas will get you started but there is always more to learn. Our answers to these frequently asked questions provide further insight. Read on to learn more about how you can create a dive bar people will come back to for years to come.

What Makes a Good Dive Bar?

A good dive bar is marked by qualities of coziness, no pretense, and a budget-friendly menu. These are, at the heart of the matter, all a dive bar needs. If you focus on curating a comfortable atmosphere with good drinks and food for reasonable prices, you’ll have yourself a good dive bar.

What are Common Cocktails at a Dive Bar?

Some common cocktails you’ll find at a dive bar include:

  • Rum and coke
  • Manhattan
  • Brandy Alexander
  • Martini
  • Old Fashioned
  • Gin and tonic
  • Margarita
  • Bloody Mary
  • Long Island Iced Tea
  • Daiquiris
  • Gimlet
  • Vodka tonic
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Screwdriver
  • Ranch water
  • White Russian
  • Paloma
  • Moscow mule

The cocktails you’ll find in a dive bar are of a wide variety. They fit for any customer, are easy to make, and fit among the best cocktail drinks every bartender should know.

Are Dive Bars Profitable?

Dive bars are typically similarly profitable compared to other bars and restaurants. The one thing to be aware of for dive bar profits is that your costs for customers are lower than most other places. You can make up for this with a wide range of well-priced menu items. Upselling is also something to work into your general business and sales plan.

What Is Dive Bar Attire?

There is no dress code for dive bars, they’re strictly come as you are. The best thing about dive bars is that they work for any bar patron. You can show up after a fancy dinner, in evening wear, and fit right in. You can swing by after work, in whatever your workwear happens to be, and feel completely at ease. Dive bar attire is whatever you happen to be wearing when the time comes!

How Do You Market a Dive Bar?

Dive bars rely heavily on anti-marketing. The appeal of a dive bar is that they’re a bit messy in terms of a business but entirely cozy and welcoming. Most dive bars don’t have major marketing campaigns. They market for specific events, like live music shows, but general dive bar marketing is subtle compared to other marketing for bars.

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Ideas for Dive Bars: What Makes Your Dive Bar Unique? 

These dive bar ideas will help you get situated in your dive bar business. Planning these types of ideas will start with your dive bar business plan, and continue through your bar operations. Take away some of the work of operating your dive bar with BinWise. The BinWise Pro beverage inventory program, paired with the BinScan app, makes it easier to take inventory

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