Updated: May 21
A big challenge I often face (as well as many other consultants) is the disconnect between architects / designers / contractors and the food & beverage teams. So often, we’ve worked with a Food & Beverage Director of a concept, hashed out recipes, presentations, incorporated varying types of ice (i.e. pebble ice, large format ice), variety of innovative glassware, bitters, presentation vehicles / vessels … but we end up having to change the program at the 11th hour to fit the functionality and ergonomics of the bar.
A few years ago I was consulting on a local hotel project in Phoenix where there was no dump sink installed … the contractor pointed to a drain on the floor and asked if the bartenders could just dump their spent ice ice onto the floor. Really?!
I worked on another project where as soon as I walked in, I asked, “Is the designer a fairly petite woman?” I was right … the overhang on the bar was set at 6’ – any person or bartender working over 6’ tall would smack their head on the overhang.
There are a lot of things to consider when building a bar that one didn’t have to even think about 10-15 years ago. But, as the beverage industry has evolved both form and function should work hand-in-hand for the optimal guest experience.
Part of the optimal guest experience is getting drinks out to guests in a timely manner. If the bar is built ergonomically, it can shave off minutes and at a busy bar, those minutes easily add up and can mean the difference between guests (and group of guests) ordering a second or third round of drinks. Having an ergonomic bar can help provide a better guest experience and impact the bottom line in very positive and dramatic ways.
While there are a multitude of things to consider for bar build-outs, below are just a few:
(Not a cooler or glass chiller, but an actual freezer.) If the program calls for large-format ice for some of your stirred drinks like an Old Fashioned or your scotch on the rocks, a freezer is is important. You can also use it to freeze some of your glassware.
Compact cocktail stations
I’m a big fan of the Tobin Ellis Cocktail Station by Perlick.
It’s a big piece of equipment (up to 80 inches! and not the cheapest, but in actuality, it actually saves space and time because it includes a dump sink, glass rinser, refrigerated drawers (saving garnish space on the bar top), drainbooard, etc. There are now some other cocktail stations coming on the market that are also ergonomic.
If I had to point to one piece of relatively new equipment I would say is a “must-have” at every bar, it would be these. They save LOADS of time for a bartender. Bartenders can dump and do a quick 5-second rinse of their shaker and move onto the next drink. It’s easy to install, inexpensive and a such huge time-saver. It also cleans the shaker and tools much faster. There is another device called an “OMNI-Rinse” that cleans your shakers while you’re making drinks with your other set. Another, awesome time-saving device.
More and more accounts are opting to have a larger variety of glassware (it’s a big trend.) From vintage glassware to tiki to punch bowls – space needs to be made from them. And, the right kind of space to ensure proper height and width dimensions.
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