Why Speed Rails Are Critical to Bar Profits

How speed rails affect bar profitability

How can bar speed rails be so critical to bar profits? Today I’ll demonstrate how proper equipment selection impacts bar profitability.

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Proper speed rail size, location and operation can maximize bartender ergonomic  efficiency and profits for bars.

WHY BAR SPEED RAILS IMPACT BAR PROFITS

Photo of commercial cocktail station with speed rail
PHOTO OF COMMERCIAL ICE BIN WITH SPEED RAIL
Speed rails are often purchased as an accessory

Most bars serving alcohol have underbar equipment that includes speed rails. Many bar owners don’t understand how improper application impacts profitability. For those unaware, a speed rail is a bar equipment accessory that attaches to the side of underbar stainless equipment and is used to store a combination of inexpensive, “well” liquor, the best-selling non-“well” liquor and spirits and mixers. Fabricated from stainless steel (refer to above photo), speed rails are often purchased as accessories.

THE STRATEGICALLY-PLANNED SPEED RAIL

Some facts about speed rails:

  • The bar speed rail derives its name from the fast-moving liquor it stores and the ability of the bartender to quickly access it.
  • “Well” is a term synonymous to “bottom-of-the-barrel”; well liquor isn’t the only liquor stored in speed rails.
  • In an efficient bar equipment plan speed rails incorporate a strategic product lineup that contain:
    • A combination of lower price point vodka, rum, gin, tequila, etc.
    • Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo, Dewars, Black Label, Grey Goose, Tito
    • Mixers.
  • The optimal product mixture will vary according to demographic favorites.

HOW TO IMPLEMENT SPEED RAILS IN ERGONOMIC BAR DESIGN

Photo of speed rail attached to a 3-bin sink
PHOTO OF SPEED RAIL ATTACHED TO 3-BIN SINK
Speed rails should be mounted so the tallest bottles are level to the working surface

Here’s some pointers about speed rails:

  • Each bar station should have its own speed rail.
  • Speed rails are typically attached to the side of drainboards, ice bins and 3-bin sinks.
  • The bottom of the speed rail should be 12” – 14” above the floor (see above photo).
  • A well-planned speed rail will contain as many as 20 carefully-selected products.
  • The average liquor bottle is 4” in diameter.
  • Optimal bar design should have 70 – 80% of bartenders movements to be in front and side-to-side.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO MISAPPLY SPEED RAILS

I believe in the axiom that “less is more”. In commercial bar design, more bar speed rails simply doesn’t make the design more efficient. The concept of efficient ergonomic bar design is born from the principle of minimal bartender movement. Be careful not to misapply speed rails. Efficient bar design limits bartender movement to two steps either side of center. This limits bartender stations to a total length of 10′ – 12′. Given this, a single speed rail cannot accommodate 20 liquor bottles in a bartender station by itself. This requires another piece of equipment.

Photo of bar with speed rail and tiered liquor steps
PHOTO OF BAR WITH SPEED RAIL AND TIERED LIQUOR STEPS

HOW TO OPTIMIZE BAR EQUIPMENT EFFICIENCY

My ideal efficient bartender station utilizes a single 36″ speed rail. How do you achieve 20 liquor bottles of storage? The underbar tiered liquor steps is the perfect complement to the 36″ speed rail. Above is a photo of a typical efficient bartender station. This bar has a 36″ speed rail and a Glastender model #LDA-24 tiered liquor step, which has four steps. Between the speed rail and liquor steps this bartender station has a capacity of 33 bottles, which is excellent space utilization.

AVOID THE USE OF DOUBLE SPEED RAILS!

Architectural drawing of bar with a double speed rail

ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING OF BAR WITH DOUBLE SPEED RAIL
Double speed rails cause extra strain to bartending

Avoid using double speed rails! The above drawing depicts the harmful effects of double speed rails. The double speed rail causes increases the bartender reach by 5″. In turn, this causes a 6’ tall bartender lean forward an extra 10 degrees. Double speed rails contribute to bartender back strain and compromised efficiency. Simply stated, improper application of bar speed rails erodes bar profits. Keep your underbar equipment within the 24” lateral envelope as I depict in the downloadable sketch (below).

BAR DESIGN TIP:

Remember that maximum bar profits are the end-result of maximum bartender efficiency, which requires bar design rooted in the principles of ergonomic design.

Stick with these design principles and you’ll enjoy maximum bar profits.


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