What’s the trick to build a successful commercial bar?
This blog post discusses the significance of skillful bar design as the fundamental component to build a successful commercial bar. A proper bar equipment layout, coupled with efficient bartender stations utilizing ergonomic bar design, can turn a bar into a cash cow for restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs.
WORKSTATIONS AND BARTENDER STATIONS
Many bars operate with one bartender during slower periods but have two or more bartenders in peak periods. However, simply adding more bartenders, much like adding more workers to an assembly line, must be done systematically or productivity will most likely decrease. So how can bars be designed to maximize both flexibility and productivity to meet all operating conditions? The answer is rooted in the concepts of workstations and assembly lines – the same core principles utilized for the mass production of automobiles, innovated in 1913 by Henry Ford. Ford’s development of the straight-line assembly line was so powerful that it reduced the time to manufacture a car from more than 12 hours to 2.5 hours! In traditional assembly lines, such as the one depicted in this sketch, raw materials enter one end, sequentially pass through each workstation and leave as finished goods at the other end; workers are assigned to one or more workstations. Each workstation contains the equipment and machinery necessary to complete a given task.
CAN THE ASSEMBLY LINE CONCEPT BE APPLIED TO COMMERCIAL BAR DESIGN?
If assembly lines can maximize labor efficiency in factories, why can’t commercial bars? The concept of workstations can, in fact, be successfully implemented into commercial bar design. In bar design we refer to workstations as bartender stations, and the drink orders each bartender produces become one of many “completed assemblies” within their respective station. The drinks are handed to customers or wait staff (as opposed to moving to the next workstation). Each station is designed to house the necessary equipment to produce a completed drink order of any size. Depicted in this drawing is a 3-station bar.
Bartender stations need to be designed so each bartender’s movements are limited to two (2) steps or less in any direction, without crossing paths with the other bartenders.
In other words, the bartender station should be 12’ (3,66 M) or less and the bartender’s movements should be primarily from side-to-side. In order to achieve maximum work efficiency, each station must have the following:
1. All of the equipment necessary to create a small bar.
2. Efficiently designed back bar with access to all beer, wine and top-shelf liquor.
Busy bars utilize barbacks to maximize bartender efficiency, by completing the following tasks for all workstations:
1. Keep the ice bins filled.
2. Maintain the glassware levels at each station.
3. Maintain the bar stock levels of beer, wine and liquor.
4. Service the bar trash receptacles.
HOW TO DESIGN A BARTENDER STATION
Bartender equipment requirements vary, depending on the percentage of beer, wine and liquor a given venue sells. For instance, pizza restaurants, which typically sell 60% beer, 20% wine and 20% alcohol, will have different equipment requirements than steak houses that sell a much higher percentage of liquor and wine and very little beer. Similarly, nightclubs and sports bars have their own unique offerings, based on the patrons to which they cater, and for these reasons, the bar equipment needs in each type of venue will vary. From an earlier Vlog post, a given bartender station could include a list of the following equipment:
• Waste basket
• Dump sink
• 3-bin sink or glass washer
• Soda gun
• Speed rails
• Ice bin
• Blender station
• POS terminal
HOW TO DESIGN A MULTI-STATION BAR
In multi-station bars, fixtures such as glass washers, backbar coolers, slide-top coolers and hand sinks will often be shared. Bars that sell a high level of draft beer will have draft beer towers in each workstation. Shared equipment should be strategically placed for equal access to each bartender. For instance, if a given bar has two stations, it will require two nearly identically-equipped stations and the “Top-Shelf” liquor will often be situated in the center of the backbar. Depending how much bottled beer and wine is sold, multiple coolers may be required. If your preference is for glass washers, automatic washers are generally capable of handling two-to-three stations; this means that a typical glass washer can exceed the output of three 3-bin sinks – a savings of up to 19 lineal feet of finished bar space – not to mention a TON of labor and much cleaner and safer drinks.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with a long bar and one or two bartenders who will wear themselves out trying to keep your customers happy.
Efficiently-designed bartender stations equate to efficiently-run bars and happier customers, which will maximize your profits and turn your bar into a cash cow!