Organising and running a bar in a village hall

Introduction (Pat Johnston, Newbrough Town Hall)

This is an account of a talk given to the Autumn Meeting of the West Northumberland Community Buildings Consortium,  held on 19th October 2011.

Newbrough Town Hall has set up a Bar in the Town Hall and are running it for the benefit of Hall Users and as a source of income.

Why Have a Bar?
Two main reasons:

  • Demand for weddings and parties as well as our own fundraising events.
  • Running a Bar is profitable and becomes a source of income for the Hall.


  • Talk to your local licensing officer.
  • Go for the maximum licensing periods so not to have any restrictions.
  • The Committee as a body become responsible for the licence.

Setting up

  • Location of the Bar – Newbrough used a separate room which is lockable
  • Equipment needed – till, optics cupboard, refrigerator, bar , glasses.
  • Newbrough do offer draught and can use plastic glasses.


  • Need to ensure that your insurance policy covers for a Bar.
  • The value of the stock stored need to be covered.
  • Any cash held on the premises (even overnight) needs to be secure and held in a safe.
  • Cash in transit.

Stock Control

  • Needs careful handling and good judgement.
  • Most drinks have a fairly long shelf life. But watch the ‘Use by’ dates.
  • Keg beer and lager needs care – goes off.
  • Real Ale has a very short life.
  • Open wine bottles go off.
  • Judge the occasion – sometimes need to stock up for parties that consume large amounts.
  • On occasions we have needed someone to go buy more stock.
  • Shorts/Spirits – generally OK.


  • Needs care.
  • Small events can use committee/volunteers.
  • Larger events need casual paid staff.
  • Must have a ‘responsible’ person present.
  • Need to operate PAYE.

Legal status for selling alcohol

  • Selling alcohol is not a charitable activity.
  • Set up a Trading Company for the activity, which will gift its profits to the Charity.
  • Beyond de minimis limits, profits may be liable to tax.
  • Maximum turnover £5,000.


  • There has been no conflict locally with other publicans.
  • Under 18 – no , use a wrist band system.