How do you plan a commercial bar layout? In this post I’ll review the standard dimensions and interior space requirements for bar and facility layout design.
HOW DO YOU PLAN A COMMERCIAL BAR LAYOUT?
Considering building a bar and not sure if you have enough space? At times it can be challenging at the onset to know if a facility can indeed meet all of one’s design criteria. As an example, here’s a plan of a recent project. The new addition to this building, which earmarked 1,000 square feet for the prospective bar, appears large enough to accommodate nearly any bar. However, the Owner also wanted a drink rail with seating on three sides of the room. The space for the prospective bar was beginning to appear marginal, because island bars require a significant amount of aisle space. As I mentioned in an earlier video about bar planning, the first goal is to draw a preliminary cross section of the proposed bar.
STANDARD UNIVERSAL BAR CLEARANCES
My sketch for standard universal bar clearances – shown here – will enable one to make a preliminary validation of nearly any bar concept. At the core of every bar design layout, we need to make space accommodations for all patrons and staff and each respective allotment must include a factor for comfort; these are collectively referred to as human dimensions for interior spaces and can be summarized as follows:
- The back bar requires from 24” – 29”.
- Back bar aisle needs to be from 31” – 37”.
- The underbar equipment requires 24”.
- The bar top should be between 24” – 30” deep and needs to overhang the inside face of the bar die by 11”.
- The customer activity zone for those seated at the bar is 24”.
- The activity zone for servers and ADA needs to be 36”.
- The customer activity zone for patrons seated in front of a drink rail should be 24”.
- Drink rails should be 10” – 12”, but at least 14” for dining.
SOME FACTS ABOUT BAR TOP DEPTH THAT MIGHT SHOCK YOU
Quite frankly, I’m shocked at all of the inaccurate information I read on the Internet about standard bar dimensions! The craziest story I read recently is that commercial bar tops can range from 20″ – 28″ in depth. Folks, I’ve never designed a commercial bar with a top that’s only 20″ deep! The narrowest bar top depth shouldn’t be less than 24″. On the other hand, some clients prefer extra overhang (on the customer’s-side of the bar).
HOW TO CALCULATE THE CORRECT BAR TOP DEPTH
To calculate the correct bar top depth, simply add the following dimensions (refer to the sketches below):
- Inside overhang (including drink rail) is always 11″ from the inside face of the bar die (bar support wall).
- Add the depth of the bar die. This is typically 5″ for 2″ x 4″ stick-built bar die and 7″ – 8″ for modular bar die.
- Use 6″ – 8″ for exterior overhang.
One can quickly see that the minimum depth is 24″. However, 26″ is by far, the most common size I specify. Remember, it doesn’t matter what size drink rail one selects, as the interior overhang is always 11″ for ergonomic reasons. Occasionally, I need to specify 30″, but that’s usually for curved or elliptical-shaped bars.
BARTENDER AISLES DON’T HAVE TO BE WIDE
Whenever proving a commercial bar layout concept, I usually plan to the smallest acceptable backbar aisle clearances. As you’ll see in the preliminary section view, I’m only allotting 31” bartender aisles for this bar, but in spite of that, the clearances all worked – barely!
ALWAYS INCLUDE PROPER AISLES FOR BUILDING EGRESS
Now that the concept for an island bar is proven, we can commence designing the bar plan. In the grand scheme of all commercial bar design projects:
BAR DESIGN TIP:
Always remember that building codes require that egress must be maintained at all building exits.
Therefore, the final bar layout can’t encroach the egress zone on the open end of this plan. As you’ll notice, we’ve maintained all clearances.
BAR DESIGN TIP:
Island backbars need to be at least 26” deep, as this correlates to the shallowest of pass-thru coolers.
ADA GUIDE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
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