Should I run my Own Bar? Or get the Hall to run the Bar?

booze on a tray

When you choose a hall, they may have a bartender who manages their own sale of drinks, or they may allow you to bring in your own drinks and serve it.   We would say that for a Fundraiser, people do tend to run their own bars.  If your event is more of a Birthday party for example where you have staff waiting on you, entertainment paid for, etc., then have the hall also take care of this.  But at Fundraisers, it is common to see the volunteers running around like a chicken with their heads cut off, because the whole point is to make money, and therefore do things yourself!  You gotta put in the man hours to see the payoff.  Below we will break it down for you, so that you can decide which option suits you best.

Hall Runs Bar

Let us assume that the hall is running the bar, and they charge $4 per drink.  You can charge $5 per drink, so that you still make $1 off each beer sold. In most cases the hall runs the bar, so make sure they have a good variety of alcohol in stock. Generally, the hall rental will be much cheaper if they supply the alcohol since this will create more income for the hall.  This can save you a ton of headaches as you do not have to worry about purchasing the alcohol in advance, transporting it there, finding people to run the bar with you, ensure they have their Smart Serve, etc.

You Run your Own Bar

If you run your bar instead and charged $5 per drink, the profit is much higher as the beer probably only cost you $2 from the case – however like we mentioned, there is a lot more to it!  You have to take into account the cost of straws, beer cups, ice, bartenders, Permit to sell alcohol, etc. Running your own bar will include more work and more initial investment, not to mention liabilities. Make sure that you aware of your city by-laws as well. Have someone you trust serve the drinks who is Smart Served, or you can have a buddy obtain their Smart Serve Certification online for $34.95+tax.

So What does Jack of all Spades Recommend?

Should I run my own bar or get the hall to run the bar?  Such a common question we get!  If you are expecting a drinking crowd, then you will want to run the bar yourself as the profits are enticing.  But if you don’t want the hassle and money might not be your driving force, then have the hall run the bar on your behalf.  Your choice!


Here is a a quote from a spokesperson representing the AGCO (Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario):

“If someone wants to have a party, the private event [Special Occasions Permit] allows them to serve alcohol at a location where there is no permit.  …Alcohol can be sold, but not to make a profit, or it can be served at no charge. Because the event is private, it cannot be advertised. …If the facility does have a permit …the event may be advertised, and alcohol may be sold at a profit since it’s being served by trained staff.”

In this article, she was also quoted saying:

A public event with a special occasion permit, often run by a charity, not for profit organization or religious group, can advertise and profit from the sale of alcohol, with the intent of putting the proceeds back into the community for projects or programs. However, a buck and doe falls under the category of private event, where no advertising is allowed and alcohol isn’t meant to be a money maker.

We have heard some say that the AGCO recommends that when it comes to alcohol sales, permit holders can’t make a profit.  Instead, permit holders will have to come up with an expense sheet outlining how their alcohol revenue will ONLY cover their expenses.

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