How to Set Up a Restaurant Bar


If you’re going to start a restaurant, then you’ll know just how competitive it’s going to be when you’re just starting out within the industry. This is why you’re going to need an edge over your competition that will get customers to choose you over the rest and have them spend their money in your establishment.

One of the best ways of gaining an edge is set up a bar at your restaurant. Many adults at some point would want to go out for drinks, so putting a bar in your restaurant business plan is something that you should definitely consider.

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How you’re going to set it up

The set-up of a restaurant bar is going to depend entirely on the size of the restaurant, its theme, and if it has a liquor license. There are some bars that are service-only, meaning that they don’t serve customers directly; it’s just for staff to order drinks. There are even other restaurant bars that offer drink as well as a limited or full menu design. So no matter what type of restaurant bar you’re going to set up, here are a few steps that should help you in the event that you’re going to actually make one:

Check your liquor license

Liquor licenses may vary as there’s a particular license that only covers just wine and beer and there’s another that covers all the different types of alcohol. So you’re going to have to choose the type of license that you want carefully and understand the type of drinks that you would want your establishment to serve. Just think of it like obtaining your vendor’s license but this time you’re acquiring one that allows you to sell alcohol. So let’s say that you plan on selling wine and hard liquor, as well as try expanding your business through bar sales report, then it’s best that you just go for the full-service bar license. You should also find out if your staff has had any training when it comes to selling specific liquor types prior to your restaurant bar’s opening. It never hurts to have your staff trained in responsible beverage product serving because doing so will help ensure that they, along with the restaurant and the owner, will not be liable for any fines or violations of the liquor license.

See how much space you have for your restaurant bar

Ideally, there should at least be two feet of space in between bar stools so that your customers have leg room. Basically, if you’re going to have around eight seats for your bar, then you’re going to need an eight-foot bar. Size is going to matter as the bigger space you have, the more customers are going to be sitting down and ordering drinks.

Decide on the restaurant bar’s location

You’ll need to think about the best location as to where you’re going to set up your bar as this is going to be very important. If you decide to put it right by the entrance of your establishment, then it can do double duty as a waiting area. If you decide to put it in the center of your establishment, it will allow your staff easier access during the dinner rush. If you’re going to place it at the back, then it will allow for a more intimate feel that’s away from all the hustle and bustle. Location is key, depending on how you want to place it, the location will definitely play a key role in regards to your restaurant’s success.

Make sure your restaurant bar has the right equipment

There a lot of things that you’re going to have to consider when you’re going to open up your own restaurant bar. It’s going to need a cooler, hygiene supplies, paper towel dispenser, liquor wells, glass racks, wine racks, and much more. You should even buy a beer tower and a place that keeps kegs cold, assuming that your bar is going to sell beer. You also have to remember that the bar floors are going to have to be rubberized to ensure employees and customers stay safe.  You wouldn’t want a serious case on your hands just because you failed to do a couple of risk assessments now, would you?

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Try to have your bar double as a waiting station

Try to make your bar as self-sufficient as possible. It can have its own point-of-sale system so that bartenders will have a much easier time as well as allow them to take care of customers on the spot. With an integrated point-of-sale system, bartenders can also send out food orders to the kitchen directly without them having to actually be there. Just be wary of your staff entering the bar, even if there’s already a point-of-sale system. Bartenders usually wouldn’t want staff to barge in and bother them while they operate them. So it’s best that you implement a rule wherein the wait staff are prohibited from entering or going behind the bar during working hours (or you can decide whatever time is necessary for them to actually be there and times when they’re not)

Try to go for the right mood

The kind of lighting that you have in your bar will determine what type of mood you’re going for. Just remember that the lighting in a bar should be subtle. It shouldn’t be too dark that customers can’t even read out the menu design template, but it shouldn’t be too bright that customers won’t even be able to look at the bartender straight in the eyes. Recessed lighting and track lighting with dimmer switches allow you to control the light, and you can adjust it to match the time of day.

Take advantage of freebies

Your liquor salesperson may just provide you with a couple of freebies that you can use to decorate your bar with. A couple of good examples would be things like custom-made glasses or even decorative mirrors.  They may even give you things such as a couple of neon lights that you can hang on the side of your bar. Just find out what you can get for free before you decide to buy whatever decorative item you want for your bar. Who knows? These people may just provide you with what you need and you won’t even have to pay for anything.

Tips for running a successful restaurant bar

If you’re going to have a bar in your restaurant, then you have to make sure to follow these tips to ensure that things go right:

Stay well-stocked

It’s best that you always have a full inventory on hand rather than having a shortage of drinks and frustrating your customers. But stocking your bar doesn’t just mean that you fill your cooler with wine, beer, or any other type of liquor. You’re going to have to find out about important information such as which of your drinks is a best seller for your customers or when are the busiest days and times. Knowing this will allow you to know what you’re going to have to restock as soon as possible, as well as know when you’re going to have to do it. But if you’re planning on introducing changes to your restaurant’s menu, then you should definitely consider a testing phase to see how popular your new food and drinks are going to be. You should also remember to keep the equipment in your bar in tip-top shape. Make sure that your back-bar refrigerator is operating properly and equip your bar with shakers and even speed rails so service is quick and efficient.

Monitor pour levels

Control costs with measured pourers, jiggers, and heavy base glassware.Use measured pourers and jiggers to ensure that all of the mixed drinks stay consistent. With measured liquors, it makes things so much easier for pourers to gauge approximate portions and it can also help prevent any sort of spillage. This can eliminate the risk of having wasted any valuable drinking product.

Remember to offer something to everyone

Try to remember that there are going to be designated drivers that have to remain sober. You should take note that alcohol-free drinks aren’t just going to be limited to soda and juices. You can whip up menu orders such as daiquiris, smoothies, and even specialty coffee. If you host an open bar, offer discounts or even a few freebies to designated drivers. If you run a highly specialized drinking establishment like an alehouse or wine bar,  then you should definitely consider adding a few options outside of your theme.

If you would like to know more regarding how to start up business restaurants, such as how to make a price list or how to market your establishment, then go through our other available articles to give you the information that you need.

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