If you want to set up a bar in your restaurant, you better
be prepared to do more than just set up a few bar tables and call it good. A
bar takes a lot of work, space and planning. Here are several important steps
to take, and issues to address, before you serve your first drink.
Check Up on Liquor Licenses
If you already hold a liquor license, make sure it allows
you to serve a full bar menu. Some licenses only cover wine and beer; others allow
hard liquor as well. You need to know if your license is adequate to your
plans. If not, get started on the process of upgrading your status.
If you don’t have a liquor license, this is the time to
apply for one. You can’t serve alcohol without this piece of paper, so don’t
take the risk. Start with your township offices and they will direct you to the
right forms, or the right department to get the ball rolling.
Do You Have the Space?
When patrons sit at the bar, there should be at least two
feet for each stool to accommodate their need for space. For 12 guests you will
need a total of 24 linear feet of space. That doesn’t mean you can’t create a
U-shaped area, which will take less length, but you do have to account for
elbow room, no matter how you set things up.
You also have to figure in enough room for your bartenders
to move around with relative ease, and room for liquor storage and any machines
you need behind the counter. These might include an ice maker, blenders,
washers, and refrigerators. You also need counter space and sinks. If all this is possible, then you can move on
to the planning stage.
Where Will It Go?
Those bar tables need somewhere to go, as does the bar
itself. You want to find a place in your restaurant that sets the tone you want.
For example, a bar at the front of the house is going to be busy and active,
which might put off guests who want a quiet meal. If it is at the back of the
house, it will be more intimate, but will require people to walk past diners to
get a drink. A bar at the center of the house is easiest for servers to access,
but can make the whole room noisy.
Time to Stock Up
Now that you have decided where the bar is going to go and
how large it will be, it’s time to stock up. In addition to those bar tables,
you need all the equipment mentioned earlier, as well as glasses, liquor wells,
dry storage, a place for paper goods, mixes and mixers. You can check with your
restaurant supplier for a complete list. Finally, don’t forget to set up a POS
system so your bartenders can take care of customers quickly and efficiently.