IN THE NEWS: An Uphill Battle for Bars
A recent article from Restaurant Development + Design details the “dumpster fire” that’s become of bars and the hospitality industry at large since the onset of the pandemic. Cushing Terrell architect Jesse Vigil and other prominent hospitality designers weigh in on how the industry is adapting, and how design can help while the pandemic persists — and beyond.
Now nearing a year’s duration, the pandemic is still wreaking havoc on the hospitality industry. In this era of social distancing, bars have been especially stymied, since they depend on close guest interaction with bartenders, the showmanship of mixology, and crowded spaces to create energy and excitement.
“Going forward, we’ll see smaller front-of-house spaces emerge, with a bigger emphasis on the outdoor spaces,” says Jesse Vigil, architect and associate at Cushing Terrell. “The barrier between inside and outside will open up, become blurred, more porous.” Garage door-type storefronts open up the interior, extending to screened-in awnings, cafe seating and roofed areas.
Decisions about changes to interior design are in even greater flux because of constantly changing local restrictions about on-premises drinking and dining. State and local regulations are the biggest challenge that face hospitality teams say 36.13% of respondents to a recent rd+d survey. And generating the excitement that bar patrons were used to is also a challenge for operators.
“Designing interiors is still a fluid situation for bars and restaurants, especially those that operate in several jurisdictions,” says Vigil. Flexibility in design is key, with open floor plans using furniture elements or moveable partitions that can be easily adjusted, he says.