What’s the secret to designing a curved bar like an expert?
Learn the tricks to circular bar design, bar planning, bar design ideas, equipment layout and bar tops.
BAR DESIGN – HOW TO DESIGN A CURVED BAR WITH EQUIPMENT
Designing a curved bar is a 3-step process:
- First we have bar layout, which includes the concept of nesting curves and compound curves.
- Next you’ll need to know the types, sizes and finishes of materials that are the most compatible.
- And lastly, you need to understand how to adapt the equipment.
Each of these steps is dependent on the others, so you’ll need to understand all three. To illustrate my point, I’ll start with this relatively simple curved bar we did for a restaurant in New York. Here you’ll see the restaurant seating plan and the bar with no equipment. Now I switch the screen to color-mode and I’m going to zoom-in here now on my work. The first thing you’ll notice is that all of the curves are nested, which is to say the bar top, the bar base, the drink rail and the equipment line and so on, the finish, which we’ll get into later – all the circles are concentric, which is what gives you the fine finished look when everything’s done. Now you’ll also notice that each of these circles – or circular patterns – is compound, which means that this radius out here has one length to it which is 184 inches, whereas when it returns back to the wall it tightens-up to a much smaller radius, which is like 46 inches; and of course, as you go closer to the bar on the inside, these radii become smaller and smaller. However, they do have a common tangent point on each layer, so this one – the bar top – it meets out here, the bar base meets somewhere closer, and the drink rail and so on, so all of these curves are consistent, and what you’ll see is I have some bar equipment laid out here and it’s generally following a curvature somewhat parallel to this outer line here; that’s the inner line of the bar die, which we’ll get into in a minute. But you’ll see how it sort of follows this general curvature. That’s what makes long curves conducive to our equipment on curved bars. Now when you get past this point, you see the tangent point over here. If I were to continue adding bar eqipment to the left here, it would be very difficult because it won’t line-up; I can’t get everything side-by-side like I have it here and even these are starting to fan apart just a bit, but that’s okay – there’s a workaround for that that worked really sweet for these kind of applications. So just remember, if you’re going to layout a curved bar with a compound curve like I’m showing here, the long curve is generally very conducive to bar equiptment, whereas the short curve not so much. The thing that further complicates matters here on this bar is that I have a gate right here, which may be required by certain municipalities.
The bar in question is 18′ 2 5/8″ x 8′ 6 1/2″ at the longest points. In order to create these nesting curves, you need to develop patterns and in order to do that you have to have a fundamental understanding of your bar overhangs. The inside green dotted lines that you see here are what we call the ‘bar base’ or the ‘bar die’ and the first overhang clearance that I’m giving you is 11″ from the inside finished face of the bar die to the inside edge of the drink rail. Now here’s the bar section I mentioned; the bar top itself is 26″ in depth. If we zoom-in here, well notice that the inside overhang from the drink rail to the inside finish face of the bar is 11 inches. Now whether you’re using granite, quartz or wood for a curved bar top, the drink rail should be fabricated from the same material.Typically what I’ll do is I’ll specify that the drink rail should be 8 inches wide and 4 inches of it should be laminated to the lower inside edge of the bar, as I’m showing here. That gives you a 4 inch overhang. This is the best approach.
Next, we’ll deal with the bar base finishes. On curved bars we need to use materials that are flexible, which means that they must be 3/8 of an inch or less in thickness. I generally prefer to use an underlayment comprised of either 3/8 of an inch bending luan or quarter-inch ‘Durock.’ For the exterior finish, one popular choice would be a selection of plastic laminates offered by Wilsonart, as seen in these photos, for a bar we designed for Tony Roma’s. For the inside face of the bar, we simply laminate FRP panels – which are fiberglass reinforced plastic – to the Durock underlayment. Marlite is one popular manufacturer of FRP panels and these panels are offered in numerous finishes. Although we generally specify white, one thing you always want to make sure of is that all laminates that you use are fire-rated.
Now let’s talk about the bar equipment. The issue here is that when you’re dealing with curved bars, no matter how you lay-out the equipment – and you need to make a sketch, obviously; if you have CAD, that’s even better, but you’ll notice here that no matter how you attempt to lay these CAD blocks along this inside line of the bar, you’re going end-up with gaps, no matter what you do and I can say that I’ve laid these in pretty close; can’t get him any tighter any closer to the wall. Obviously, the equipment itself is rectangular – it’s not circular – so we have to make some adjustments, otherwise we’re going to end up with gaps between our equipment. How do we do it? First of all, companies such as Glastender, which specializes in high-end bar solutions, have ready-made products for these applications; they’re called ‘Corner Drainboards Less Than 90 Degrees’. As I scroll down this cut sheet here, you’ll notice on P. 2 that we have several different configurations of corner drainboards less than 90 degrees, but I’ll just focus-in on the upper portion here, to make it simple. You’ll normally focus your attention on these two components here, which are ICCA 15 – or OCCA – this is an inside corner and that’s an outside corner – same product only flipped over, 15- or 30-degree intermediate solutions. The 45’s are actually really used for corner conditions and 60’s probably not common, but it could be depending on your bar. Glastender also makes a very narrow filler panel, which I do not have a cut sheet of, but I’ll demonstrate graphically. Well here’s the updated equipment plan. I had to move some things around a bit, but here’s what we have: we have the special 10 degree filler panels, which are very narrow. I have one here and one over here and then we have the less-than 90 degree drainboard filler panels, which are 15 degrees; we have a deep one here and we have two shallow ones at these other two locations. This will give you the opportunity to have a continuous solid surface all the way across your bar. Glastender also was able to fabricate a special corner drainboard over here, that was made-to-fit. You’ll notice that if you were to start laying bar equipment in on the short side of the curve, it just doesn’t work very well, irrespective of this gate. The longer the curve, the better-off your bar equipment will fit and the filler panels are the key to making it all work.
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All wood used for commercial bar construction needs to be fire-treated and all finished materials are required to be fire-rated. See you next time!
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