In this blog post, Rick Uzubell from Cabaret Design Group discusses the basic bar design criteria for evaluating existing bar equipment and redesigning an existing bar.
Are you interested in re-designing your commercial bar? Today we’re going to discuss how to approach a total bar re-design. In front of you is a plan of a bar we just re-designed. This was the “Before” or “existing condition” as it were, before we commenced redesigning it. The bar is located in a very large bowling alley and was really two-bars-in-one, consisting of a bartender station for walk-up business, designated here as a “Walk-Up Bar” (to service the bowlers), as shown in this photo, and integrated into a 40-seat sports bar. This was a unique project for us because total re-designs are rare. Most of our projects are new construction, which usually provides some flexibility. However, this project had many constraints:
1. Fit the new bar within the existing space, within the context of all existing plumbing and electrical utilities.
2. Ensure efficiency within the new bartending stations.
3. Make the new bar appear as if it were intended for the space.
The bar was very large – nearly 37 feet long (11,28 meters) – as shown here. There were a total of four bartending stations and the equipment existing at the beginning of this project was clearly focused on draft beer sales. The existing equipment consisted of three direct-draw draft beer coolers (designated on the plan as “DD”) and one 8-faucet draft beer tower for a glycol draft beer system (designated as “LD”). As with most bowling alleys, the preferred beverage is beer (designated as “PTC).
HOW TO EVALUATE BAR DESIGN DEFICIENCIES
The primary goal was to re-configure the bar so it would become more user-friendly – more appealing – and the second goal was to expand the glycol draft beer system from a centrally-located island back bar, in this vicinity. The walk-in cooler and power pack for the glycol system is shown over here. Lastly, this particular item is a pass-thru cooler for bottled beer.
From an aesthetic perspective, the first design deficiency I recognized are these two large circular lobes – one at each end and about 18 feet (5,49 M) in diameter. While they were attractive (the bar was well-built, as seen in this photo), they were also imposing. ‘What’s the most popular seat?’ I thought to myself. The answer is “nowhere”. In other words, there was no easily-identifiable seating opportunity for someone to feel isolated and cozy and the bar’s massiveness made this difficult to quickly assess. The next thing that jumped-out was the gross lack of underbar equipment. You’ll notice in this plan that the only underbar equipment is right here; it gave me the feeling that it was removed and that the bar is going out of business. Lastly, there was no footrest, as you’ll notice in this photo. Given all this, who’d want to sit at this bar? The bar had no comforting attributes and it imparted the lack of a clear-committed effort on behalf of its owner. This isn’t to say that the owner wasn’t committed – perhaps he didn’t know any better. After all, the bar was attractive and clean – it just had the wrong approach. However, it had run its course and the time was clearly at-hand to start anew.
DESIGN IDEAS FOR THE NEW BAR
As I mentioned, from an aesthetic perspective, the bar didn't provide patrons with the opportunity of any easily-identifiable favorite places to sit. Bars designed with multiple angles provide individuals and groups with this advantage, so the new bar would incorporate this idea as a priority. Secondly, the depth in the center section of the bar appeared to be expandable, which would be necessary for the future island back bar. From an operational perspective, the new bar would need to be fixtured for making mixed drinks so the patrons could feel as though they were sitting at a real bar.
In Part 2 of this 3-part series we’ll discuss how to design a bar.
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