Inc Well | Small Business Advice for Chicago Entrepreneurs
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Running a Successful Bar in Chicago

Fedora Lounge plants a successful stake in River North

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Chef Suzy Singh speaks with the owner of Fedora Lounge to discover the secret behind their success.

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There is no blanket formula on how to run a successful bar/restaurant, but one of the keys to success is continually being motivated by a passion for the business.  

Fedora Lounge Managing Partner Brooke Alexander grew up with a father that owned bars and restaurants in NYC, so that passion was instilled early.

Just like you can't teach something the same to everyone, you need to treat every bar/restaurant as its own unique individual, with its own personality, disadvantages
and assets.  

The key is to understand what works in what space and where, which takes patience, hard work, and flexibility. Mistakes will be made, but the nightlife business is a continuously moving and evolving industry, and it's the ability to react and learn that is key to one's success and progress.


As a business owner you need to be on your game. What does that mean? Constantly studying and learning the business, as well as staying aware of food and beverage trends, especially in the area that you intend to place your business.


  •  Location, Location, Location! Even the best location can fail if it's not the right concept. Don't ask yourself what is my ideal bar/restaurant, but what is ideal for this space that will
be successful.
  •  Go with the Flow -- Being close-minded and not open to change and flexibility is where bar/restaurant owners run into trouble.  Being successful in the long run comes with the ability to ride a fine balance between confidence and humility.
  •  Know your customers. Fedora's managing partners are hands on and take an interest in getting feedback from customers and staff. They also offer discounts to patrons in the "60654 Club," which helps foster a neighborhood vibe.

And like any business, the key element for success is the staff. Alexander says she doesn't hire people, she "casts" them, a move designed to create a consisten mood and ambience.

At the end of the day, their job is to create fun, and what can be better than that!

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