Designing a Bar – 7 Problems with Plans and Layouts

Cabaret Design Group

What are the 7 biggest problems with designing a bar? For many, bar design is a very frustrating experience. Today I’ll address the 7 biggest problems with planning commercial bar plans and layouts, dimensions, equipment, finishes and costs.

DESIGNING A BAR – 7 BIGGEST PROBLEMS

Let’s face it, planning a commercial bar is frustrating and time-consuming. To make things easier, let’s talk about the most fundamental planning issues of bar design:

1. PLANNING FOR AREA AND CAPACITY

What’s the best shape for a bar and how many patrons are you intending to serve?

Here are a few examples:

1. 2-STATION SHOTGUN BAR

This bar design is becoming less popular. The bar shown in this example seats eight is nearly twenty four foot long and requires 260 square foot of floor space.

2). 2-STATION L-SHAPED BAR

This bar is more compact and therefore more flexible to buildings with limited space this bar seat six is about 18 feet long and requires 180 square feet of floor space;

Architectural plan of 2-station L-shaped bar

3). 3-4 STATION ISLAND BAR

This is the most popular bar design, as it enables patrons to interact with people on all sides. This bar is approximately 485 sq.ft. and will accommodate 28 seats.

Island bar is the most popular and efficient design

PLANNING FOR EFFICIENCY

In terms of seating efficiency, the shotgun bar and L-shaped bar require the largest area of at least 30 square feet per patron. The island bar is the most efficient at only 17 square feet per patron. This chart summarizes all the above.

2. HOW TO FIT A BAR TO A GIVEN SPACE

It can be challenging to fit a bar within the physical space with all proper clearances. Remember that empty space often appears larger than it really is and careful planning is required.

Architectural plan depicting how bars are designed
EXAMPLE OF FITTING A BAR TO A SPACE

3. PLANNING SEATING AND TABLES

This is a further refinement of the previous point, which addresses all seating, including tables. Architectural standards need to be applied that take into account human dimension and interior spaces, including server aisles, ADA, customer activity zones, circulation zones and clear access zones between tables. Using these standards were generally put you in good shape with the occupant loads as stipulated by IBC for Assembly Group A-2.

2-TOP AND 4-TOP TABLE PLANNING
2-TOP AND 4-TOP TABLE PLANNING

4. HOW TO DESIGN BAR EQUIPMENT FOR ERGONOMIC EFFICIENCY

Bars are factories which make drinks, so what are the necessary provisions for maximizing ergonomic efficiency and owner profits, while reducing work comp claims?

UNIVERSAL BAR CLEARANCES AND SPECIFICATIONS w/ADA

5. DESIGNING BAR FINISHES

Once the bar layout has been determined, there are a myriad of options for creating the finish. The following is a top 7 list of commercial bar finishing options:

  1. Soffits
  2. Ceiling treatments
  3. Wall coverings
  4. Architectural lighting
  5. Bar tops
  6. Bar cladding
  7. Foot rails

The following is an expanded version of that list, with all the finishing options. Bar owners need to invest in design in order to retain their customers.

Top 7 list of bar finishes

6. HOW TO DESIGN A DRAFT BEER SYSTEM

Nearly every commercial bar client we have wants to get in on selling craft beer, but the choices for equipment are numerous and this requires careful planning.

Photo of Bar with Draft Beer Tower on Island Back Bar

7. HOW MUCH DO BARS COST? (BUDGETING)

For most, this ranks as the most critical aspect of bar planning, but in order to make the budget work, one needs command of the above. One of the largest line items in bar planning is the equipment. Every bar needs a myriad of bar equipment, such as dump sinks, hand sinks, 3-bin sinks, glass washers, drainboards, soda gun holders, ice bins, combination ice bins, speedrails, blender stations, POS stations, coolers, waste baskets, ice machines….the list goes on and on. Some companies, such ‘Easy Ice’ and ‘Ecolab’, help you alleviate the cost of capital outlay, by offering subscriptions.

Here’s a copy of our ‘Bar Equipment Price List’ for your reference. A clickable version is listed below.

My favorite reference book for architectural standards:

https://amzn.to/38q3piJ

Need Help with your bar plans?

Designing a bar can be time-consuming and frustrating. Contact us today for your free consultation!
RELATED POSTS:


WHAT IS MY BAR DESIGN REALLY GOING TO COST?

FITTING A BAR TO A GIVEN SPACE

PLANNING BARS & RESTAURANTS FOR SEATING AND TABLES

DESIGNING BAR EQUIPMENT FOR ERGONOMIC EFFICIENCY

HOW DO YOU DESIGN BAR FINISHES?

DESIGNING DRAFT BEER SYSTEMS

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUILD A BAR?

 

MOST POPULAR POSTS:

WHAT ARE THE STANDARD BAR LAYOUT DIMENSIONS FOR DIY?

HOW DO YOU DESIGN COMMERCIAL BARS FOR ADA COMPLIANCE?

 

DOWNLOADS FOR THIS POST:

ITEMIZED BAR EQUIPMENT PRICE LIST FOR 2022

BAR DESIGNERS’ LIST OF BAR FINISHES

 

POPULAR DOWNLOADS:

STANDARD BAR CLEARANCES w/ADA

ADA GUIDE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

BAR AND RESTAURANT SEATING GUIDELINES

 

 

DISCLAIMER: The above video and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. This helps support the channel and allows us to continue to make videos like this. Thank you for the support!