By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

The bar and cellar is the heart of any pub, and both the operation and design of both spaces matter.

Public in Canberra is highly-lauded for its main bar, having been nominated at the AHA national awards for its bar service and presentation. Frank Condi, owner of Public, has put a lot of thought into the layout of his bar so that it’s both aesthetically pleasing, but runs efficiently with several staff working the bar.

“My background is in nightclubs, so I tend to have my bars set-up so that everything is within reach. So I’ve got a central eight taps, two banks of four close together. I’ve got two speedrails either side of that. A speedrail can hold two people. That is post-mix guns on either side, there’s a speedrack, there’s glassware, there’s ice, there’s juices, so everything is within reach, and there’s tills,” explains Condi.

“So a staff member can work on a station, work to the middle of the bar and back to his station, and also have cross over. I try to minimise how far staff have to travel for things and I try and maximise the opportunity that staff can overlap and have everything within reach.”

Leah Sloan, owner of Berry Springs Tavern in the Northern Territory – which won the aforementioned AHA national award last year – also prescribes to the strategy of having all elements in the proximity of staff members, and has added one other element to maximise ease of service. At Berry Springs Tavern, there is also a similar set-up at the food-ordering area, to cater to the highest-selling drinks also.

“We have an ice well and duplicate beer taps and post-mix gun at the food ordering end of the bar enabling our wait staff/food team to attend to common beverage requests without having to head into the main bar service area or require the customers to head to a different area to order drinks. This area also has the coffee-making facilities along with the iced coffee/milkshake facilities, enabling us to utilise floor staff to assist with these beverages where required – resulting in effective cross utilisation of staff and a more efficient and streamlined service experience.”

At both bars, the design of the main bar allows several members of staff to seel and serve drinks in peak periods, while it can be manned by just one person in slower stages of trade.

Cool runnings

While not a visible part of a venue, the cool room also requires good design and strategy to maximise efficiency, and the quality of the beer coming from it. At Berry Springs Tavern, Sloan has adapted the arrangement of the cool-room to also support the hotel’s bottle shop.

“The original design of the cool room was to support only a bar operation. Halfway through the building process we acquired a bottle shop licence, which set us new challenges in the way in which we used the cool room space. There is a corridor area which houses the kegs and glycol system – in the design of this we ensured enough space to move freely in this area while negotiating the movement of the heavy kegs,” states Sloan.

“The bar area has glass front fridges which are restocked from the rear in the cool room, ensuring effective stock storing and rotation. The bottle shop area has two access doors which are not accessible to bottle shop customers, ensuring we can maintain stock integrity and store in such a way that we don’t need to consider potential customer access.”

Keeping the equipment and stock in cool rooms clean and organised is also a big issue, especially if your cellar area is small. While the cool room at Public is quite sizeable, Condi notes that at one of his other venues, the cool room is a tight squeeze, at 2.5x3m.

“I’ve literally got a box I’m trying to work out of. But we try to keep it very organised and very structured, as I don’t want to waste time having staff in cool rooms. Just keep it clean and worry about the customer.”

This is an excerpt from a feature in the May issue of Australian Hotelier, to read on, click here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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