Hey, Rick Uzubell again from Cabaret Design Group, answering the question, ‘How do you design and build a better bar?’ What’s the trick to build a successful commercial bar? A proper equipment layout and efficiently-designed bartender stations can turn a bar into a cash cow. Many bars operate with one bartender during slower periods but have two or more bartenders in peak periods. However, simply adding more bartenders, much like adding more workers to an assembly line, must be done systematically or productivity will most likely decrease. So how can bars be designed to maximize both flexibility and productivity to meet all operating conditions? The answer is rooted in the concepts of workstations and assembly lines — the same core principles utilized for the mass production of automobiles innovated in 1913 by Henry Ford. Ford’s development of the straight-line assembly line was so powerful, that it reduced the time to manufacture a car from more than 12 hours to 2 1/2 hours. In traditional assembly lines, such as the one depicted in this sketch, If assembly lines can maximize labor efficiency in factories, why can’t commercial bars? The concept of workstations can, in fact, be successfully implemented in commercial bar design. In bar design we refer to workstations as ‘bartender stations,’ and the drink orders each bartender produces become one of many completed “assemblies” within their respective station. The drinks are handed to customers or wait staff (as opposed to moving to the next workstation). Each station is designed to house the necessary equipment to produce a completed drink order of any size. Depicted in this drawing is a 3-station bar. Bartender stations need to be designed so each bartender’s movements are limited to two steps or less in any direction, without crossing paths with the other bartenders. In other words, What bar equipment is included in the typical bartender station? Bartender equipment requirements vary depending on the percentage of beer, wine and liquor a given venue sells. For instance, pizza restaurants, which typically sell 60% beer, 20% wine and 20% liquor will have different equipment requirements than steak houses that sell a much higher percentage of liquor and wine and very little beer. Similarly, nightclubs and sports bars have their own unique offerings based on the patrons to which they cater, and for these reasons, the bar equipment needs in each type of venue will vary. From an earlier Vlog post, a given bartender station could include a list of the following equipment: In multi-station bars, fixtures such as glass washers, backbar coolers, slide-top coolers and hand sinks will often be shared. Bars that sell a high level of draft beer will have draft beer towers in each workstation. Shared equipment should be strategically placed for equal access to each bartender. For instance, if a given bar has two stations it will require two nearly identically-equipped stations and the top-shelf liquor will be situated in the center of the back bar. Depending how much bottled beer and wine is sold, multiple coolers may be required. If your preference is for glass washers, automatic washers are generally capable of handling two-to-three stations. This means that a typical glass washer can exceed the output of three 3-bin sinks — a savings of up to 19 lineal feet of finished bar space — not to mention a TON of labor and much cleaner and safer drinks. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with a long bar and one or two bartenders who will wear themselves out trying to keep your customers happy. Efficiently-designed bartender stations equate to efficiently-run bars and happier customers, which will maximize your profits and turn your bar into a cash cow!