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Commercial Bar Design: 7 Genius Tips Experts Swear By

In the United States, there are over 1 million restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

These businesses generate hundreds of billions of dollars and the majority are single-unit operations. To stand out in such a crowded field isn’t easy. One way that you can make sure that your business stands out is by having a commercial bar design that is memorable and attracts customers.

There’s a lot of research that has gone into what works and what doesn’t, here are a few tips that will help take your bar to the next level.

1. Determine Your Brand

When designing a bar or restaurant space, you need to have a brand image in mind. Is there going to be a theme to the decorations and style of the bar? If so, what is that theme and how will that play out where you want to put the bar, not every style of the bar will work in every place.

A key consideration to make is whether you want to go upscale, do heavy theme work or present yourself as a neighborhood watering hole. The concepts that go into each are different and one doesn’t work with the other. Make sure you understand the area you’re setting your business up in as well.

Everything inside the bar should relate back to the brand image that you’ve chosen. If it’s a sports bar, there should be sports memorabilia and other eye-catching sport-related objects. This holds true for any concept that you may have, some won’t require memorabilia but they will require design choices to be made.

The purpose of doing this is to tie together the visual appeal of your business. This will make it a more memorable experience for patrons, and the hope is that they will spread the word.

2. Space is Important

Managing the space inside a bar is of great importance. You don’t want to fill the space with too many things that can cause slips, trips, or falls as this will only cause problems. Clutter can also distract from the messaging and point of your decoration, so make sure to eliminate any clutter.

One important point about space is that it can make or break how your staff performs. The fewer obstacles in their way, the more focused they can be on their job and selling more products. This means that the space left unused is as important as what you do with the space you use.

Space is also important when determining where you will place certain features. Like storage rooms, walk-ins if necessary, and other vital components of your business. The ability to reach supplies and stock as required is important to not just how a bar functions, but how it operates and appears to customers.

One major aspect of modern bar design layout is how cozy or cramped the serving floor is. If you want to emphasize a sense of party, it can be smaller. If you want to focus on giving each group of guests more privacy you’ll need more space.

3. Kitchen Considerations

Not every bar has a kitchen, but it is something you should consider if possible. Serving bar food has several benefits, keeping your customers around, and offering something other than alcohol among them. If you’re going to serve food, the placement of the kitchen is important.

You’ll want to put the kitchen where it is easily accessed by staff and not too far from the patrons it is serving. You want food to be piping hot when it is served to your hungry drinkers. The layout of the kitchen will also dictate how easy it is and how many staff you’ll need to operate the kitchen.

Whether you have a small kitchen or a full-service kitchen, you’ll want it close to the action. It needs to be somewhere convenient for servers to reach. You don’t want the layout of your bar to impede the performance of its various components.

You will also have to decide if you want the kitchen to be visible to everyone. Some modern commercial bar designs and themes use open kitchens where customers can watch their food prepared. Others decide to hide it away, tucking it behind the bar, or in the corner of the building.

4. Cups, Plates, and Cutlery

Customers will notice the cups, plates, and cutlery that you use. For bars that want to strike a traditional tone, this is even more important since beer, wine, and cocktails all have different serving vessels. You’ll want beer glasses, wine glasses, and various types of cups for different cocktails.

This choice will impact your bottom line because it will determine the serving size of your drinks. Most cocktails are served in smaller cups, those that are 8oz or less. Whereas beer is often served in larger cups, 12oz and larger in some cases.

Plates and cutlery are secondary to this concern, but they are important in their own right. You’ll want to make sure that everything stays on brand, and fits with the theme of your establishment. This presents an aesthetic appeal to the place that customers will remember and speak about later.

5. Bar Height and Furniture

While there is some room to play with the size of your furniture and bar, there is a best practice in modern commercial bar design layout. This is that the bar is at 42” and the stools are around 30”. This ensures that customers can reach the bar, and sit at it without being uncomfortable.

Your theme and ambiance will be a major contributor to how you want your furnishing to look. One of the best commercial bar design tips is to make sure that all of your bar and restaurant furniture matches and fits the motif of your business.

Whether you choose to have a minimalist look, something art deco, or something traditional all revolves around the furnishing and bar style you choose. Even the decorations on the wall won’t have as much lasting impact on your choice as the furnishings. Remember this when deciding where you want to go with your bar and furniture.

6. Lighting and Seating

Bars and restaurants vary to a great degree when it comes to how they present themselves. One of the best ways to set your business apart is to use accent lighting to highlight areas of the bar and seating areas. This can help to organize the operation of the bar without having to post any rules or say anything at all.

People who want to eat will often gravitate towards well-lit areas and tables. Others may be drawn to the darker corners or even the dance floor. How you light the activity areas, dance floors, etc, will also impact how they are enjoyed and used by your clients.

A lot of commercial bar design ideas focus on lighting as a way to enhance the experience. This also ties into the theme or brand that you’re building. If you want a flashy modern nightclub, for instance, it will have to be lit differently than a local water hole that may be darker and less flashy.

The choice is yours to make, but remember that lighting and seating are going to tie together many different aspects of your business. Seating will also have a major impact, as you must decide what type of tables, chairs and other accessories will be necessary.

7. Music and Dancing

Not every bar has a place for music or dancing, but it can be vital to certain themes and styles. If your bar is going to have music and dancing, you’ll first need to decide what type of music you’re interested in. You’ll also have to decide if you want live music, a DJ, or just house music over a jukebox or other system.

If you do choose to have live music you’ll need to place a stage at the end of the dance floor. DJs can often operate from a booth, but in some cases, stages work well for them too. Live music can generate a lot of buzz and help enrich the local economy and bar scene but does come with some drawbacks.

One of those drawbacks is the space requirement. You’ll have to make sure that you have enough room to accommodate a reasonably sized band if that’s what you want to go with. They will need space for between 3-5 players with instruments, drums, and equipment.

Of course, this also ties back into the commercial bar design you’re going with and how you want customers to enjoy your establishment. A bright, noisy, packed bar isn’t going to work for every concept.

Commercial Bar Design

No matter what theme or aesthetic you choose to go with, make sure that it is something that appeals to you and your customers. Once you’ve made the decision, go all in and conform everything to your brand. This will set the tone for your establishment and determine what commercial bar design concepts you go with.

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