In this guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about Bar Design. We will cover the basics and explore some of the most common questions when it comes to commercial bar design. Want to know how to go about opening your own bar? You’re in the right place.
Whether you’re looking to open a neighbourhood bar or city centre cocktail bar, there is a lot to consider when it comes to bringing your vision to life. Every bar will have it’s own identity and concept and therefore each one will have different requirements and equipment. The extent of the bar equipment, kitchen and seating will very much depend on your type of drinks offering, whether you will serve food, the kind of clientele you will be serving and the size of the site.
Types of bar:
- Pub | Also known as a public house, often serving many varieties of beer or ale on tap alongside a range of basic alcoholic drinks. Pubs often serve food alongside their drinks offering.
- Hotel bar | Hotels often have a reception bar or lounge, which usually offers a relaxing break out area for customers to enjoy drinks during their visit, the hotel bar is often in addition to the hotel’s main bar or restaurant.
- Restaurant Bar | A restaurant bar is a bar that exists to supply the needs of the restaurant diners or ‘just drinks’ customers. The drinks offering is usually created alongside the restaurant food concept and the drinks offering will depend completely on this menu. Restaurant bars can often serve outdoor drinking areas too.
- Cocktail Bar | A venue that specialises in mixed speciality drinks. Serving unique and adventurous luxe alcohol cocktails alongside other alcoholic drinks not often found in regular bars. Mixologists and specialist trained bar staff are required to serve these signature drinks.
- Wine bar | A specialist bar serving only wine, often high priced and offering a premium experience. Expect a huge range of wines to try, specialist trained staff is essential.
- Beer hall | A communal space, perfect for social meets often beer specialists, serving many types of draft beer. A high consumption of beer here compared to other drink offerings. These venues often serve ‘fast casual’ or street food offerings.
Grey Coffee have worked on a range of bar design projects and are able to help you with commercial bar design ideas. We work with you to understand the functional requirements of your bar design and create design concepts that align with your brand.
Find out how Grey Coffee can support your next bar design project.
The main elements of a bar
A typical bar consists of a front bar, a back bar and in some cases a gantry too. The most important thing to consider when planning your bar is it’s functionality, this space has to be practical and functional for it to operate in the best way possible. This workstation needs to first and foremost provide ample storage, provide the essential tools needed for the bar staff, and be adequate for the volume of drinks preparation required and accommodate the post drink procedures too. This space also needs to be considered from a design perspective, the arrangement of the equipment should make sense and work in harmony with the flow of the bar staff and be factored into the overall general arrangement of the site. The customer-facing elements of the bar should also be considered when developing the interior concept, this should be tied into the scheme of the interior and be a key feature in the design.
Typically the bar will contain essential equipment that needs to be factored into the arrangement, this usually includes fridges, bar pumps, dishwashers, shelving and storage, ice chests, sinks and more specific elements depending on the type of bar or environment it serves. For example, a cocktail bar would require some more specialist equipment and bespoke storage, as would a wine bar. Having the ability to run dishwashers, sinks, ice machines and drink pumps will require access to the cellar/basement, most bars will notably need some form of power source and access to services too; this would also need to be factored into the arrangement and overall interior design.
Key bar dimensions:
What is the typical height of a commercial bar?
- The typical height of a commercial bar ranges from 42” – 45”. The bar concept is usually determined in the design phase of a commercial interior design project?
What is the typical width/depth of a commercial bar?
- The average width/depth of a commercial bar should include a drink rail accessible to bar staff, with this in mind the dimensions should be 20” – 30” wide. The back bar dimensions are usually between 24’’ – 29’’.
What are the typical dimensions for a behind bar workspace?
- Workspace between the bar and the back bar should be between 31” – 37”, this will ensure there is a comfortable work environment behind the bar.
Read more about the commercial interior design process here.
Designing a successful bar
Successful bars are designed with the functionality of the space at the forefront of the design and planning process. It’s pretty well known that when the functionality of a space is nailed it positively impacts the working environment and productivity of the staff, consequently improving profits. This is especially true for the hospitality industry, bars and restaurants are often fast-paced workplaces and it disrupts the workflow of the space isn’t functioning as it should. Making sure the bar and work environment is designed with the staff in mind is key, to keep this space efficient it’s important to ensure the layout of equipment, tools and interior works for the specific bar.
How do you arrange a bar?
To design a successful bar you must first consider the space you have to work with. This can be best done by creating a general arrangement. A general arrangement is a drawing that helps to create clarity in terms of the drinking/dining space available, kitchen space (if applicable), the bar, work stations, sanitary rooms and staff-only areas.
The main reason for creating a general arrangement is to identify the best flow of the space, as well as to indicate specifics and dimensions for the fit-out process. It is crucial, especially in hospitality venues, to get the general arrangement just right. The space should optimise the staff’s efficiency, time is money and the wrong arrangement will impact the speed of service and therefore the volume of drink sales. It’s wise to try a few different arrangements before making a decision, this way you will be able to weigh up the best balance of customer experience and convenience for staff. If you can test these proposed arrangements in the physical space we recommend doing so, it will really help you get a feel of the functionality and flow of the entire space, not just the bar.
How do you make your bar stand out?
Designing a successful bar requires more than just a vision, it involves planning, consideration, and a strong brand purpose. Before thinking about designing your bar you should consider what type of bar you are intending to open, the location and demographic, how you will differentiate yourself and why people will want to visit.
The space should be reflective of the brand and support the brand’s narrative. The design of the bar, material choices, drink selection, customer experience, lighting, seating and music all contribute to the overall experience and ambience for the customer. Design consideration for each of these elements all help make a bar unique. Once the space has been determined you can start to create a design concept for the bar. The brand concept should have a direct impact on the design of the bar.
Developing a bar concept
Developing a bar concept starts with your vision, not only for the bar but also for the overall brand. Starting to get to grips with what you’re passionate about and your reasons for opening a bar will generate the basic ideas for your brand’s purpose. Building a narrative around these values as well as the type of experience you want your customers to experience will help you to understand what the brand will stand for. Gaining clarity around these questions will help you to move in a direction that builds the foundation of your brand strategy.
Your brand strategy then drives the design of an identity and bar interior concept which will connect with your ideal customers. The bar concept should build an atmosphere that reflects your brand and its intentions, this can be achieved by paying close attention to the materials you use, the lighting, the music choice and how the overall interior scheme ties together.
Each of the following will impact the atmosphere you create in a bar:
- Lighting | consider more than one type of lighting for your bar, a combination of task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting can help create the right feel.
- Music | this is something that can often be forgotten about. Utilising music can add another dimension to the space, this choice should align with the brand’s ethos.
- Furniture | the seating should be suitable for the type of bar it is. Bench seating is best suited for a more social and communal space for short visits, whereas booths or banquet seating can create a more cosy and sophisticated feel to your bar especially for those customers wanting to stay longer.
- Art & Pictures | the finishes to your bar should be considered carefully, consider how you will tell your brand story through the imagery, colours and material choices.
- People | staff inevitably affect the customer’s experience, hiring people who align with your brand’s purpose will help build a great internal culture which in turn will help develop an external community too.
- Drink and food offering | your bar’s drinks offering is a big part of attracting your customers, the drinks offering and ingredients should be aligned with your brand’s values and vision. If you offer a food menu ensure this also ties in with the drinks menu and the bar concept too.
To open a successful bar that will attract and connect with the right customer, you need to have clarity around your brand offering. Once you have identified your brand values, brand personality and vision you can start to implement this into your visual and physical touch-points. Integrate your brand story through the brand’s identity, company collateral, drinks menu and importantly the interior concept. Your brand strategy should inform your brand concept and this concept should determine all elements your bar interior. When you nail the general arrangement, weave your brand story into the interior, and ensure a clear and consistent offering the brand is much more likely to be a success. Your customers will connect with the brand and naturally want to return, creating a sense of loyalty, consequently growing your community and business.
If you have found this guide helpful you may also like to consider reading some of our other insights.
If you’re interested in understanding how we can help you to transform your interior and impact business growth then you may want to explore our Bar, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Cafe or Commercial interior design service pages, or talk to us today!