More to know about beer, clean-up, cost
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Dealing with suds. A wide variety of draft beers on tap is popular. Beer kegs can be remote from the taps or self-contained, meaning directly below the taps. If volume and variety is small self-contained may be the way to go since it is cheaper and requires less maintenance. However, keep in mind that you’ll need keg storage space directly below the beer tap and you’ll need one keg for each tap. You can’t have multiple taps from the same keg and you’ll want to have a back up keg ready when one is done. Each keg weighs about 150 pounds and can be tough to maneuver and hook up in the middle of a busy period.
Each keg requires about 20 inches of storage, so if you’re thinking about multiple beer brands or multiple taps consider a remote system. A remote system is more expensive but can be more effective especially for a high- volume bar. Any system over 15 feet away requires mechanical refrigeration of the beer lines. That means you’ll have a bundle of plastic tubing required and a refrigeration cabinet to hold the equipment in addition to the storage refrigerator for the kegs.
Clean up. Two other equipment items you’ll want to have are a sink and a hand sink. A hand sink is required to be a separate sink with a soap and towel dispenser for proper sanitation. Health departments universally require this sink. The other sink is a bartender’s utility sink. There are a myriad of uses for a sink and water at the bar, so position this sink for easy use.
Cost. How much will your bar cost? The overall cost of a bar equipment package varies considerably. Under-bar equipment like ice bins, sinks, refrigerators, drain boards and beer taps can be budgeted at around $1,500 per linear foot depending on the equipment used. This cost is just for the equipment, not the bar top or back bar. Some specialty equipment like espresso or frozen drink machines can increase the budget well over these guidelines. Consider your needs and try to make the bar operation as simple as possible to keep equipment costs in line.
The layout. Now that we have discussed all the necessary components for your bar system, you’ll need to put it together in a well thought out layout. In laying out your bar station, consider minimizing your bartender’s movement to about a step for making a drink. This one-step rule is the key to good bar station design.
A 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. That means within a diameter of about 10 feet, bartenders can reach everything they need to make a drink and complete a bar transaction.
How you lay out the equipment for the bartender station will be the most important factor in having the bar operate effectively and equipping the bar for profit.
Dan Bendall is a principal of FoodStrategy, a Maryland-based consulting firm specializing in planning foodservice facilities. He’s a member of Foodservice Consultants Society International and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.