What’s the secret of designing a curved bar like an expert? Learn the tricks to circular bar design, bar planning, bar design ideas, equipment layout and bar tops.
CURVED BAR DESIGN – HOW TO DESIGN A CURVED BAR WITH EQUIPMENT
Curved bar design 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. In the sketch below you’ll see the restaurant seating plan and the bar with no equipment. This is the starting point for this story.
ALL SURFACES ARE DESIGNED FROM NESTING CURVES
BAR DESIGN TIP:
The most fundamental principle of curved bar design is that all the curves are nested, which is to say all layers (such as the bar top, the bar base, the drink rail and the equipment line and so on), are geometrically (concentrically) related by common centerpoints.
Note the following:
- All the circles are concentric, which is what creates the fine finished look when the bar is built.
- Each of these circular patterns in elliptically-shaped bar (such as this) is compound, which means that the outer radius (184 inches in this case), intersects a much smaller radius (46 inches in this case) at a common tangent point;
- Of course, as you go closer to the bar on the inside, these radii become smaller and smaller. However, all curves share a common center point and common tangent point on each layer.
- You’ll notice that I have some bar equipment laid out (refer to the image below) and it’s generally following a somewhat parallel curvature to the outer line (which is the inner line of the bar die).
- Also notice how all lines (layers) the common curvature is what makes the long curves conducive to our equipment on curved bars.
THE LIMITATIONS OF THE CURVED BAR
Beyond this point, you’ll note that if I were to continue adding bar equipment to the left, 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 which works really sweet for these types of applications.
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 equipment, but not nearly as well for the tight curve. What further complicates matters with this bar is that I have a gate, which some people prefer.
The bar in question is 18′ 2 5/8″L x 8′ 6 1/2″ at the widest point. In order to create nesting curves, you need to you have to have a fundamental understanding of standard bar clearances and overhangs, discussed in another video. 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.
THE TRICK OF CREATING CURVED BAR FINISHES
Now we’ll deal with the bar base finishes.
BAR DESIGN TIP:
For 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 prefer to use an underlayment comprised of either 3/8 of an inch bending lauan plywood. For the exterior finish, one popular choice consists of plastic laminates offered by Wilsonart, as seen in the photo below. For the inside face of the bar, we simply laminate FRP panels )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.
HOW TO DESIGN BAR EQUIPMENT FOR A CURVED BAR
BAR DESIGN TIP:
The most fundamental advice I can give you for designing bar equipment for curved bars is that you need to make a sketch to scale or you will NEVER reach the correct solution.
For those who use a CAD program, that’s even better, but it has to be compatible with the .DWG format. The first thing once will notice is that no matter how you attempt to configure (position) the CAD blocks along the inside finished surface of the bar, you’re going to end-up with gaps. This is normal. Obviously, the equipment itself is rectangular – not circular – so we need to have at least minor gaps between adjacent pieces of equipment. Next, we have to make some adjustments. How do we do it?
THE ANGULAR CORNER DRAINBOARD AND THE FILLER PANEL ARE THE KEY BAR EQUIPMENT
BAR DESIGN TIP:
The key bar equipment components for curved bars are the angular corner drainboards and narrow filler panels.
A company such as Glastender (which specializes in high-end bar solutions) offers these as standard products, developed specifically for these applications. The ‘Corner Drainboards Less Than 90 Degrees’ (shown in the image above, right). If you download this cut sheet (shown below), on P. 2 you’ll notice several different configurations. The 15- or 30-degree configurations are commonly used for intermediate solutions and the 45’s are actually used for corner conditions. The Glastender narrow filler panel is similar, but used for smaller angles. Here’s the final equipment plan (shown at right). I had to move some things around a bit, but here’s what we have:
- Two (2) special 10 degree filler panels, which are very narrow.
- One (1) less-than 90 degree drainboard filler panels, which are 15 degrees; one is deep and two are shallow.
- This finished plan provides a continuous solid surface all the way across the bar.
- Glastender also was able to fabricate one special corner drainboard.
BAR DESIGN TIPS FOR LAYING OUT BAR EQUIPMENT FOR CURVED BARS
You’ll notice that if you were to start laying bar equipment in on tight-radius curves, it just doesn’t work very well, irrespective of whether or not you have a gate. The longer the curve, the better-off the bar equipment will fit and the filler panels are the key to making it all work.
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