Restaurant Bar Dimensions

Advice on the proper height and depth for a commercial bar. May 4, 2005

I'm building a bar for a restaurant and am not sure how high to build it (42"?), and how deep to make the top counter.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor M:
42" AFF for bar height.

Typically, what I have seen and done in a commercial situation, is no less than 16" and no more than 18", depending exactly on the configuration. We almost always go 18", plus, if they want, a 4" wide drink rail mounted below it on working side. This is something you definitely want to go over with the client. Hopefully you are doing some shop drawings for them to sign off. You can draw it out full scale on a piece of plywood and have the owner check it out and sign off on it.

Sounds like a good excuse to do some field research. Go out for a beer tour with your tape measure handy and measure a few of them.

From contributor H:
Architectural Graphic Standards is a great reference for such dimensions. Check your local library for a copy - a must have for most shops.

From contributor R:

Hey, when you do that field research, write down the measurements. Memory and bars are like oil and water. Also, that wide oak elbow rail is called Chicago bar rail.

From contributor T:
The front bar rail should be no further from the back where the server is than 36". This includes the machines or drink rail on the server side. This will determine how wide to make the top after you deduct all the equipment behind the bar that the server must lean over to reach the countertop. Most mistakes I see on a 42"h bar is that the knee space is not sufficient. 6" is not enough and 8" knee space would be absolute minimum unless it is strictly stand up with no chairs. Nothing worse than banging your knees on the front of the bar.

Sit down bars are 42" a.f.f. Stand up bars are higher, up to 46" - this is called a continental bar.