I think we have about 45 to 50,000 college students in this town, 6 colleges and a state university. 3 large bars maybe what you're looking at, but probably larger. All have turned owners in 5 years, one twice. Most college kids are broke but there are spenders, but I would not rely on sturents to keep the doors open on a large operation.
Don't know where the resturant issues come in on this deal, didn't see anything from the op on that.
Sounds like you're hot on the idea and want confirmation to go with it. Not from me, I get the impression that you don't know enough about the industry even if you think you might, asking the questions asked as evidence. You can't put your money up and rely on your friend where he/she only has an up side. You need to know the business.
You can not ratio and pro-forma your way through assessing any bar business. Success goes far beyond the past performance that might be pumped in the books. You need to audit the place, verify inventories sold through the place.
Liquor licenses are held by the business owner, not the building owner but might be both, but pretty sure the names of owners are run through background checks and an application process, you don't automatically buy a license.
Seller financing is very common for bars as such business are harder to finance, along with privately name type resturants, non-franchised stores. I have put many together. Options usually won't fly, never taken, most buyers milk the profits and move on unless strict accounting and cash control is in place and overseen by the seller. That's usually a business manager under seller control for installment deals, many buyers baulk at such arrangements.
You can kill any bar in less than 6 months. Bars are social animals as well as a business. High employee turnover has a direct effect on the bottom line in a short time. Large places to a lesser degree, but who is there matters. Bands are another aspect, a large place better go for the best in the area IMO and pay the pipper, large cover charges really need to be considered. The large place here that turned twice was killed by band cover charges on fri/sat, college kids won't pay 20-30 at the door here, they may in your area, but point being, you can price your way out of business quickly.
Distributors set the prices, not you, they don't have competition. Only one distributor in an area for Bud, one for Johnny Walker, etc. Volume buyers, like larger places, get better pricing, distributors can also raise a price after loss leader sales, you may not be able to simply raise your price, so the distributor really can control the margin. Point being, you need to know how your distributors operate, they can squueze you. Liquor laws limit where you can buy your product. Here, bar owners could buy cheaper at a liquor store, but can't, probably the same all over.
Smaller bar owners can gang up on large ones, they have less overhead, they do know each other. They can offer specials even at a loss for longer periods, remember inventory costs are controlled by distributors. They do decent bands, no cover and get popular employees and you'll have a hard time with college crowds. If there is a business more cut throat than RE, one has to be the bar business!
Regardless of what anyone says, bars are seasonal, bad weather keeps people in, more so than resturants. Accounting methods can smooth some of this out, pro formas are best guess especially for student clientel.
Expect vandelism, bathrooms and mischief from drunks. Large places with college students here have such issues weekly, part of doing business. Smaller bars can be watched much easier.
Your bonds and insurance will depend too on experience in the business, it's required. So what your last owner was paying may not be your premium.
As Joel mentioned, equipment is cheap second hand, old coolers will likely cost you, check for reapirs done and contracts. Utility bills are insane for super large bars, at least here, check bills carefully.
I'd also say that a bartender at a large bar probably can't do the bar side and business side, much too involved unless they have a death wish. You need a general manager, bookkepper, accountant, as well as bar tenders. A large bar is not a one man owner operation.
Point is, looking at what a past owner has done may not be applicable to the next owner. That's why you really need experience, not just a bean counting financial approach basing your decisions on expected returns, I guarantee you'll be wrong 6 months out if you are not very conservative. IMO