So last Sunday I went to an Expat bar in Domeño, Near Lliria and had a nice roast dinner, courtesy of Dave and the ladies, however I write this because I’m sad that the bar is yet another expat bar, a cafe or restaurant to cater for British (and Irish) people which is having to shut its doors for ever. There seems to be an exodus of bars, will there be any left?
We have been in Spain for 3 years now, more or less, and I will be the first to admit I like a drink (!), however the problem nowadays is FINDING somewhere to drink, before they all close down.
Bar and cafe life is something that certainly attracted us, and many others, to live a more relaxed lifestyle here in the sun, but the clouds are certainly forming for many bar owners, and all across Spain there are the memories of people’s lost dreams after moving from the UK with the idea of “Oh, let’s open up a bar in Spain!”.
One only has to have a stroll around the Costa blanca city of Benidorm to see more “se trapasa” and “se vende” signs than you can shake a stick at.
Of course, to silence people reading this who may think that I have not integrated into Spain (oh please!), to put it into context, we go to an expat bar, maybe only once every 6 weeks, usually either for a roast dinner, or a fried breakfast, but usually we much prefer to drink in the local Spanish bars, but a little bit of what you fancy never harms you!
It’s certainly not news if I tell you this country is fading fast, just like Rajoys pre election promises, but it’s quite worrying, and dis heartening to see all these pubs and bars go to the wall. There are bars, Spanish ones, in lliria that have been shut ever since we moved here.
You would think the owners would make the effort and try and find someone to rent it, instead of leaving it empty, often because of stupidly high rent wanted by the owner.
The smoking ban didn’t help, and we saw a few years ago, many pubs in the UK also shutting their doors for ever, but with our temperate climate, most people dont seem to mind nipping out for a quick fag over here, but yes, fairs fair, it IS bad for your health.
Speaking Spanish in an English bar.
I can still hear the rumblings of discontent from some “Urb” completely full of expat “old people” as I write this….. AAARGH!!!
Many times we have been in British bars, and I mean across various places in Spain, not just the Valencia area, and it seems that some people want their bar to be a little escape from the Spanish life they chose?
The Guiri experiment…
We conducted an experiment in Benidorm and went to a British pub in the Rincon de Loix area, near to Levante beach, and a stones throw from the “Sol Pelicanos”, the hotel where they film the ITV comedy, “Benidorm”.
It was the first opportunity for us to have some english food for several months, but of course we are used to speaking in Spanish, so we carried on doing that.
The people sat near us seem to almost “freak out” that a family who were obviously English, were speaking Spanish!!!!!
I dont know if it is because the Brits dont generally feel they have to learn Spanish, especially in somewhere like Benidorm, or even places further away such as Marbella, Fuengirola, Mijas, Javea, Nerja et al, the but it was quite funny (but unsettling) to see the looks we got, and the hushed tones.
Were they in awe, or just scared?? It was almost like the Brits who surrounded us felt in some way “threatened”, or that we were not adopting some sort of Colonial, stiff upper lip old chap,” they all bloody well learn some English, ” sort of attitude!
The people who run bars and hotels in places that attract expats, obviously take time to learn SOME English as it pays them to do so, but
Times are hard
As far as we know, there used to be a handful of British bars here in Lliria or at least nearby, but most have gone bust, especially with the huge amount of people, especially families, who have given up life in Valencia and returned home.
There are many factors to opening your own bar in Spain and to be honest, the success rate is very small, and it is highly likely if you do decide to open a British pub in spain, you will fail, lose everything, and return to Britain penniless.
We found an interesting bucket list on the Spain expats forum so I thought we would share it here, hope the author doesn’t mind.
The factors in Opening an expat bar in Spain
(Quoted from British expats forum)
- - Financially. It’s a mugs game.
- - Most expat bars lose money
- - Even fewer repay capital and lease holders full labour hours, at market rates
- - There are too many bars in Tourist areas
- - Demand for bar leases is higher than their business worth (you should actually be paid a premium to take up paying a lease!)
- - Bar real estate owners churn leases and usually make min 10% of lease cost on each failure, hence are immune to oversupply.
- - Many bars do not even recover marginal costs on each item sold, let alone provide full contribution to fixed costs.
- - The majority of lease holders do not speak Spanish
- - Hours worked are excessive.
- - Many bars are not fully registered and compliant with the law
- - Prices are too low and cannot be raised industry wise or demand will fall
- - Price is elastic. Ie changes in price have a relatively large effect on the quantity of a good demanded.
- - Time is not costed (you will be the only one not going to the beach)
- - The business model is limited by people proximity and charging by drink or food, not time. Changing that has never been done. Yet.
- If you don’t have the money to lose, then just get a bar job.
If you do have the money: -
- - Design and fix the process (flow diagram)
- - Write an electronic plan with milestones
- - Monitor the plan every day
- - Don’t believe you are different! Everyone does.
- - If you’re not a people person or shy, forget it.
- - If you have health issues, forget it.
- - If you have drink or drugs issues, forget it.
- - Work in a bar nearby at least two months
- - Location!
- - Don’t waste time on silly names and refits
- - Go either where you have a monopoly or are are central to a strip
- - Competition can sometimes be good
- - Learn Spanish first, it’s the least difficult language (including English)
- - Ensure you are Big enough and have a music license
- - Don’t buy empty bars
- - Ignore figures you are given
- - Copy success dont clone failure
- - Be different but check changes work
- - Keep trying new stuff
- - Don’t get lazy.
- - Work co-operatively (marketing, supply deals, buying, facilities, entertainment, security, advice, staffing, opening hours, technology sharing, whatever)
- - Undertake proper market research
- - Be cheeky. Talk to everyone, neighbours, customers, anyone.
- - Employ someone with multi languages
- - Cater for Northern Europeans, Japanese and Americans
- - Write off thought of capital return
- - Be willing to accept capital depreciation
- - Think about the supply chain options rather than retail
- - Tourist bar market is finite sum (you alone can’t invent tourists)
- - You only make money by moving it from other equally desperate bar owners. Cruel world.
- - Focus on lifestyle and weather benefits
- - People attract people. Arrange for the bar to look busy.
- - Be the first bar in the World that never makes a customer wait (customers hate to wait). The only job that bars should be good at ie Getting what you want and Paying, is their worst.
- - Employ staff rather than working yourself. If you can’t pay someone, you shouldn’t be doing it.
- - Never compete on price but always give the best value (ie give more not charge less)
- - Game changer idea’s fail even more often. Shame but that’s customers, they follow not lead.
- - Game changer idea’s may be great but too early or too small (ie you can’t have just one starbucks)
….thankfully, we hear that there is going to be NEW expat bar opening in Lliria, and as soon as we have the details, we will of course publish it here.
Mine’s a pint by the way………..