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Bar Design

Bar Design: Stop Focusing On The Wrong Things

March 26, 2013 By: Nightclub & Bar


Last week at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show design experts Nancy Hadley and Tobin Ellis encouraged attendees to ask themselves some simple questions about the design of their venues.  Here is what they had to say about the ever changing industry.

Nancy Hadley "Creative Design Ideas for Enhanced Customer Experience & Profits"

If you’ve ever watched Kitchen Nightmares or Bar Rescue, you’ve seen the work of Nancy Hadley of Nancy Hadley Fine Art & Consulting. After 4 years on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (and 80 homes in 48 states), Nancy was tapped by Gordon Ramsay to be the art director on Kitchen Nightmares. She was then chosen to work with Jon Taffer on Bar Rescue. Nancy realizes that there are two different types of NCB attendees - those who own a bar and those who dream of owning a bar. Both should have the same goals: Get people into the bar, keep them there and get them to come back. Great design is integral to achieving this goal and experiencing success.

Nancy encourages business owners to ask some simple questions to achieve great design. Is there a brand? Was there a brand when the business was purchased? What is the targeted demographic? With these questions answered, a theme that can attract the target demographic can be adopted and a logo and slogan that expresses that theme can be created. “If you tie your colors into your logo, you've done it,” cheered Nancy. “Understanding that your logo defines your business is crucial.” Once that is understood, the brand should encompass name, logo, slogan, color scheme and theme or style. The four senses are also essential to great design. Ranking them from the most important first, smell, sight, touch and sound must all be taken into consideration. Ever the gracious designer, Nancy is not shy about her willingness to help out businesses in need. Should a bar, club or restaurant have difficulty locating a local artist to assist in design or create a unique, branded feature, contact her via Twitter: @artnanners

Tobin Ells "Inside-Out Bar Design: The Brilliant Blasphemy of Function Before Form"

Tobin Ellis of BarMagic of Las Vegas had his moment of clarity concerning bar owners who focused on the “wrong” things when designing a venue. In 2000, Tobin was asked to help reopen a well-known bar inside a prominent Las Vegas Hotel. Executives and designers were fretting over $20,000 glass shelves from Australia that hadn’t yet arrived, delaying the reopening by weeks. When Tobin attempted to offer up a reasonable solution, he was dismissed. After waiting for a while longer, he raised his hand as though he were in school until he was given the opportunity to speak. He pointed out that the shelves were to be at eye level which meant they couldn’t be seen by the customers so Plexiglas was a fast and inexpensive solution. He then mentioned that nobody had gotten soda guns or installed a gate for the union bar staff to enter and exit the bar.

The numbers don’t lie: 9 out of 10 businesses fail within their first year and 80% to 90% of those that do survive don't make it to the 5-year mark. To make it to that mark and beyond, a owners, designers, architects, etc. need to be focused correctly. The concept needs to be defined and target demographic chosen. Operations need to be understood and set up from the very first moments of the design process. If time and energy is focused correctly, a bar, restaurant or club design will be drafted and executed in a logical and successful way.


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