Raising The Bar At Your First Restaurant

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raising the bar at your restaurant

Just like a well-planned out restaurant kitchen, your selection and location of your equipment is vital to your businesses so is a well-planned bar.

To run a highly successful bar selecting just the right equipment to handle your operation, and then organizing it correctly, is critical.


To make your bar station work you need to have the glasses, ice, beverages, mixers and garnishes all within easy reach of the bartender.

Raising The Bar At Your First Restaurant

Glassware Washing Is Critical!

If you have a glasswasher in the bar area, be sure to have a dump sink on one side and a clean drainboard on the other.

Often bar operators like the high-temperature machines because they are typically best at removing oils and cleaning glassware. However, keep in mind that a high-temp washer might generate a lot of steam, which may interfere with the guests experience. Search for one that condenses the steam before opening the door.

Choosing The Right Ice Is Essential

ice shapes

The perfect cube can add to the presentation of a drink. High quality, large crystal-clear cubes are best to merchandise bar drinks.

Many bars install freezers for their custom-molded ice spheres or other specialty ice. It is no longer unusual for restaurants to buy ice blocks and cut their shapes for signature cocktails.

It’s not recommended to have the icemaker in the bar itself, but instead have ample ice storage there to last through a rush period. The cocktail station is the central component of a bar position. Typically the cocktail station is 24-36 inches long and may have wells for bottled mixers. You can opt for the appropriate size ice bin by understanding that a 24-inch bin holds almost 100 pounds of ice while the 36-inch unit holds nearly 150 lbs.

TIP-Once melted ice is accounted for, you can get about three drinks per pound of ice.

Having your beverage bottles readily accessible is important. Typically a single- or a double-speed rail is mounted on the front of the ice bin where the bartender can reach for the most popular house brands. Other bottles can be stored under the bar on liquor steps.

double bar rack

Liquor display steps are modular stainless steel units that fit into the underbar unit. Lockable units are made to secure bottles when closed, so bottles don’t have to be removed and stored every night. Typical planning capacity is 3.5 bottles per foot on each level. For example, a 24-inch-long unit can hold about 28 bottles. Less used liqueurs and cordials are typically displayed on a back bar directly behind a bartender for ease of access.

Beer is an important consideration!  A wide variety of draft beers on tap are popular in many bars.


Beer kegs can be remote from the taps or self-contained, meaning directly below the taps. If volume and variety are limited, self-contained may be the way to go since it is cheaper and requires less maintenance. However, you must remember you will need keg storage space directly below the beer tap, and you need one keg for each tap.

Any system more than 15 feet away requires mechanical refrigeration of the beer lines. Keep in mind there will be lots of plastic tubing required. You’ll also need a cooling cabinet to hold the equipment and a storage refrigerator for the kegs.

Wine on tap is also becoming popular! The selection of kegged wine is growing, but understand that wine requires slightly different equipment from beer.

Two pieces of equipment you will need and are necessary by health codes is a sink and a hand sink. The hand sink is necessary to be a separate sink with soap and a towel dispenser for proper sanitation. The other sink is a bartender’s utility sink. There are many uses for a sink and water at the bar, so position this for easy access.

Don’t forget soda guns for mixers. Dispensing soda where the drink is can save a significant amount of time when positioned correctly at each bartender’s station. Other mixers can be in bottles on the speed rail or in bottle wells.

The One-Step Rule

Once you have decided on all the necessary components for your bar, you need to put it together in a well thought out layout. In laying out a bar station, minimize your bartenders’ movement to about a step. The bartender should be able to make 90 percent of the ordered drinks by taking no more than one step from the central position of his or her station.

Bartenders need to reach everything they need to make a drink and complete a bar transaction.

Don’t forget a trash can for fruit rinds, paper, bottles which need to be disposed of quickly and easily.

Raising The Bar At Your First Restaurant

Follow the above guidelines and you’ll have the makings of a well-run and fruitful bar.

50 best bars 2015


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