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Finding a design to fit your restaurant

Question:

We have a new location that is only 5500 sq. ft. indoors, but has a wrap-around patio. Would you recommend sticking with the tried-and-true single bar design, or going for two bars? The concept is a Mexican a sports bar/cantina.

– Ray Flores, Partner, Killer Culinary, Tuscon, AZ

Answer:

I spend a lot of my work with restaurants preaching simplicity. Multi-bar concepts can be really cool but keep in mind that for every rockin’ Saturday night, with two bars packed to capacity, you have five weekday afternoons where you have a very expensive extra fixture taking up dining room space.

It is challenging to be specific without seeing the plans, but keep in mind that your second bar adds liquor inventory, doubles equipment, necessitates an additional bartender where you might otherwise be able to get away with a barback, and limits the flexibility of your space. My recommendation is to stick with one bar but, if feasible, locate it on the wall between the patio and the dining room so that you could serve from both sides through a pass-through.

James Feustel, Director of Design at Jacobs Doland Beer Foodservice Consultants, agrees that one bar is best, “For the most part, a foodservice operation only plans for more than one liquor bar if they’re to be located on different floors. Many components go into a properly designed bar – the backbar, the underbar equipment and the front bar. The front edge of a bar is at least eight feet from the back wall. That’s a significant amount of space to give up in two locations in a restaurant. Having only one bar eases staffing (during off-peak periods, it’s easier to staff one bar, and closing down an entire bar in an off-peak period can make a space look empty and unappealing), and also gives the most flexibility for the balance of the space. The space given up for a second bar could easily become a temporary stage or additional seating for the big game.”

If I’m wrong, you can always add a portable bar on the patio later.

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