Turn your bar from 'good' to 'great'

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The bar industry is diverse and competitive; to ensure your venue stands out from the crowd, create an environment that is memorable and on trend.

While we may think of bars as a fixed structure, ‘trendy’ industry leading bars are adaptable and ever changing. When a new trend emerges, industry leading bars adapt and embrace the trend, they don’t look the other way and not take notice, they see the opportunity.

Take the explosion of the craft beer scene – particularly the American craft where the number of independent breweries are at an all-time high, the popularity of Pimms once again and the push of ciders in the summer.

So why is it then that particular bars adapt so well to these trends, yet majority of our venues can’t quite capture that essence? Are we not giving our bars enough love and attention? In our industry we often use our food offering as our main driver for visitation, yet our bar offering is just that, an offering and not a driver. Given that our bars generally account for 15-30% of revenues within gaming venues, perhaps they deserve a little bit of love and attention.

What is it then that these bars do well and how can we implement these?

  • Be aware of the trends

It is important to respond to our industry’s trends appropriately. With the constantly changing alcohol styles and service offers, we have to be flexible and adaptive to remain relevant to the market.

  • Bar design should be adaptable 

Realistically, the main structure of the bar shouldn’t need to change. The expensive infrastructure (size, shape, stainless steel, concrete plinths, reticulation, electrical, refrigeration) should only have to be rebuilt once a decade. However, the soft materials (back bar displays, finishes, etc.) can be updated and refreshed 3-4 times during the lifecycle of the infrastructure. By changing these soft materials you can give your bar a new look and feel in line with new trends, and these changes don’t need to cost your venue.

  • Carpet, paint and lights; carpet, paint and lights; carpet, and lights…

Create a unique environment that creates atmosphere and represents your brand.

A major overhaul of the bar with every new trend is not viable for most of us, but what is a manageable process every few years is carpet, paint and lights. Keeping the bar fresh and relevant with some minor updates and new furniture is affordable for most.

These small changes can make all the difference, changing the entire atmosphere of the area and giving the consumer an entirely new experience.

  • Make your bar ‘Instagram Worthy’

Connecting the new generation of spender is not achieved by uploading photos of your venue via social networks, it is achieved by creating spaces where the customer shares photos of your venue (for all the right reasons).

By adapting a comfortable and unique atmosphere, you will be creating and encouraging shareable experiences.

  • Cater for multi-demographics

Bars need to be comfortable enough to cater for multiple demographics. While some venues create a well-designed bar that caters to a minority, in our business that generally isn’t sustainable and we need to ensure that families, couples, singles, groups, young folk and oldies can all identify the space within the space where they ‘belong’. Again, subtle changes in lighting, finishes and furniture signal to these groups the most appropriate offer for them.

  • Great customer service

Long gone are the days where a “please” and “thank you” or getting service with a smile pleases customers. Satisfied customers are looking for a memorable experience where they are kept engaged and satisfied. Customers just want to feel valued and it is the small things your staff can do that can enhance customer experience and have them walking away boasting about your venue to their friends.

So what does it mean to have a good bar? It is constantly responding to the trends of the market and updating your venue to match the fashion of the moment, providing patrons with a place to hang their on trend puffer jacket at the end of the day.

Need assistance creating a memorable space to attract, engage and retain your customers? Contact DWS on (07) 3878 9355, or email


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DWS has extensive experience in the liquor and gaming licensing fields and have consulted on high profile applications to the Office of Liquor and Gaming

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