How to redesign a bar

17 November 2010
How to redesign a bar

Redesigning a bar is a great opportunity. But to ensure it works for your business, any refresh must be thoroughly planned and thought through.

The first step is to examine your sales history to make sure you understand what works at present. Then do your homework: who is your target market, what will you be famous for and what is your forecast spend per head?

Next it is time to work backwards. What is your ambition and positioning? What would success look like (and not just financial)?

Then think about the concept, which needs to lead the design. The best bars of today don't sell drinks; they sell experiences. It is vital you decide what you want your guests to walk away talking about. Creating the concept is the most interesting and engaging part of the job. Great design alone doesn't make a bar a success.

Your concept document should include:

â- Thorough research of the target market
â- The inspiration behind the ideas
â- Benchmark operations
â- Sample menus
â- Recruitment strategy
â- Top line financials
â- An understanding of what success should look like

Only once this is done should you appoint a designer. They need to understand what makes a great bar, enjoy going to bars and have an appreciation of the surrounding area, competition and - importantly - the budget.

Then it's about getting the offering right. The props needed to deliver the magical experiences and most important of all an enthusiastic team must be employed to tell your great story.

Finally, plan how you will tell the world. Every new bar needs a marketing campaign; you need to get your story out there.

Robbie Bargh, director, Gorgeous Group

1 Concept
- Identify what your bar will be famous for. Research what's on trend but bear in mind your concept should last at least four years. Included should be key design references, inspiration boards, key words and unique stories that can be translated into experiences. Work up detail on drink and food menus, uniform and music or entertainment policy. Also draw up an overview on recruitment, style of service, top line assumptions and the launch and marketing of the bar.

2 Design - The designer needs to be fully briefed on the concept. For a successful redesign the designer/operator relationship is key. The designer needs to fully understand the needs of your business and deliver a bar that will work daytime and evening, is functional both front and back of house and deliver the concept. All this must then be translated into intelligent design.

3 Experience - Identify the key reasons for guests to choose your bar. Work on your menu and your stories. What will you be known for? Will it be a spirit, classic cocktails, Champagne, sake, or fancy drinks delivered with great theatre? Then understand what operational equipment you will need to deliver the experience.

4 The team - The most important part of any great bar experience. Putting together a team will take time. You need to scour the competition and identify who could you train up. Identify for attitude above aptitude. Look outside the industry and place more emphasis on training and building the confidence of the team. Training is ongoing, team development crucial.

5 Propaganda - Start seeding the stories three months before opening. Social networking sites are just as important as traditional print media. There should be at least one person in your management team dedicated as the day-to-day marketing contact. Remember - it's all about telling your story better and louder than anyone else

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