The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Bar Design

Although it’s easy to overlook, restaurant bar design can greatly contribute to your business’s success. A well-designed bar encourages guests to linger—and keep ordering—while a poorly designed one can mean guests closing out tabs after just one drink. A well-designed bar will help employees serve drinks more efficiently and maximize profits every shift.

Whether you’re looking to design a restaurant bar from scratch, or want to reconfigure your current setup, this guide to restaurant bar design is for you. Read on to find out more.

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Layout guidelines for restaurants bars

Very good restaurant interior designBoth the staff and guest experience should be maximized. Intentional bar design allows guests and bartenders to be comfortable, and facilitates bartenders’ best work. Consider these things when designing your bar. floor plan for your restaurant’s barConsider your employees and customers’ perspectives.

Bedding for your guests

Height of the bar: Industry-standard Height of bars is between 40” and 42,” as this is the optimal position for your average guest to lean on the bar, or be seated in a bar stool.

Options for seatingIf space permits, offer a range of seating options to your bar patrons. A traditional bar is essential, but high-top tables can be a great option for those who don’t want to sit down and enjoy drinks.

Foot traffic: If possible, avoid setting up your bar in a high-traffic area so that bar guests and food runners don’t accidentally get jostled.

Flexible spaces: If your local climate allows for it, consider having an indoor-outdoor bar that opens up when it’s warm, and closes when it’s cold. You can expand your capabilities when the weather permits. Doi Moi, the hip Vietnamese restaurant located in Washington, D.C., is a great example of this. outdoor bar seatingWhen the weather allows. 

Hooks: There’s nothing worse than coming into a toasty bar in the middle of winter and having nowhere to put your bulky coat. You can place coat racks at the bar to make it easy for guests to access and also keep their outerwear in check. Place hooks under the counter if you prefer bar stools over chairs with backs.

Take into account the needs of your staff

The backbar’s depth and areaYou will save time and money by giving your bartenders and backs sufficient space so they can do their job without being crowded together. Create an aisle that’s about 3’ wide behind the bar to give your team ample room. The bars should have a depth of between 3.5 and 4.5 feet. 20” and 30” deepTo allow customers to enjoy food and drink, as well as for bartenders and waitstaff to be able to make beverages. 

Equipment layoutThese general instructions are available: Bar equipmentLayout rules are used to make sure staff do their job seamlessly.

  • Keep glassware stored behind the bar at shoulder level, so that it’s easy to reach.
  • Place an ice bin under the bar so that it’s at the perfect height for scooping. It’s not a good idea to make your staff crouch low in order to scoop the ice.
  • You should fill your speed train with those liquors you use the most. This is according to BinwiseA good rule of thumb to follow is not to keep any bottles more than 3 times per shift on the speed rack.
  • Cushioned mats on the ground behind bars will make staff more comfortable. 


Tips and ideas for designing a restaurant bar, large or small. 

Now that you have the basics of functional bar design down, it’s time to get to the fun part: the aesthetics of bar design. A well-designed bar with carefully selected seating and decor can draw customers to the restaurant and create the perfect atmosphere for people to enjoy the food and drink. Make sure you leave room for your guests. Costs of opening a restaurantBudget for the essential design components.

Bar seats

Are you going to have bar-height barstools with backs or traditional stool without backs? Both have their advantages. 

Chairs with backs are more comfortable for guests, so they’ll stay longer, and will likely order more drinks. Backless stools are less comfortable, so you’ll likely experience turnover faster, which means you can serve more guests. 

Garnitures and glassware

Bar aesthetics include glassware and garnishes. You can order custom-branded glasses to serve beer or wine. You can create a photo-worthy environment for your drink by using statement glasses and garnishes. This will allow customers to post photos about your beverages on social media, and also allows you to advertise your restaurant’s location to their friends. 

You can take inspiration from tiki bars which usually have one glass per cocktail. Festive garnishesBanana dolphins, edible flowers One look at Three Dots and a Dash’s Instagram, and you’ll see that this Chicago tiki bar has mastered the art of statement glassware and garnishes.

Bar decor

Add visual intrigue and creativity to your bar’s bar by adding countertop decorations and backbar displays.

Bar top decorations can be as simple or complex as floral arrangements with seasonal accents (e.g., gourds and holly) You can create an atmosphere with candles. To avoid fire hazards, make sure you keep candles away from drunk guests.

If there’s a wall behind your bar, leverage it to enhance the visual experience or use it as creative storage. For inspiration, look to the classic French bistros. Many bars have mirrors at the back. Mirrors make your space feel bigger, let customers keep an eye on what’s going on, and give you a creative place to write daily specials, as Philadelphia’s Good King Tavern does.

Alternativly, shelving could be used to display and store your liquor. Open shelving can be decorative and help you upsell premium liquors. If the shelves are high, make sure that there is a way for bartenders and other staff to access bottles. Take inspiration from Charleston’s 5Church, which Shows off its liquorBehind the bar, open shelves


Add games to your bar area, if space is available and the game fits in with the ambience of the restaurant. They’re a great way to decorate your restaurant while engaging guests—and keeping them ordering drinks.

You can offer classic arcade and board games, such as shuffleboard, pool, or skeeball. You can even put out large-format Jenga and Connect Four games, like Philadelphia’s Independence Beer Garden does. 


What to do with the bar? How can you improve customer experience 

A restaurant bar isn’t just a place to serve guests drinks. A bar is a great way to show your guests the kind of hospitality you expect. The bar will improve your customer experience. It can keep customers engaged as they wait.

Keep your guests entertained while you wait

While guests wait for others to arrive or to set up their tables, a bar can keep them busy. If a party is waiting for their table to free up or be bussed, they can pass the time— and start a tab—at the bar. You can order drinks or snacks at the bar before your dining companions arrive.

Accommodate guests who don’t want a meal

A busy restaurant can lead to lost revenue if you give a table at the top of your menu to people who just want drinks. If you own a restaurant with a bar, it is possible to charge additional fees. offer bar seating or high tops to guests that don’t need tablesThis means that parties have smaller covers than people who are eating full meals. And, if you opt for bar stools, as opposed to bar chairs with backs, you’ll likely turn guests over more quickly at the bar and maximize profits.

Offer a casual alternative of traditional seating

Although most restaurants allow walk-ins to their bars, there are other options. let guests reserve bar seatingYou can enjoy a more relaxed dining experience. Saving bar seats for reservation can be a great way to guarantee income if your restaurant is full. However, you should always have a place for restaurant customers to walk in and wait, so if that’s not the bar, create a lounge area where customers can order food and drinks while waiting. 


Ending: A complete guide for restaurant bar design

Restaurant bars are for more than just drinks; they’re an extension of your restaurant’s hospitality. Design is more than aesthetics. Design is a key element in the guest experience and encourages them to come back again and again. The design environment creates an inviting atmosphere for bartenders. Your business will prosper if your employees are satisfied.

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Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.