It’s always nothing less than a headache. But sooner or later you’re going to have to bite the bullet and update your bar equipment.
It takes a lot to keep a busy bar going. Most publicans know this but some remain relatively unaware of what’s out there by way of the latest, most efficient bar equipment and maintenance contracts.
Visits to your local bank manager or finance house may inevitably follow the realisation that you need to renew or you may decide to rent rather than buy outright.
Either way, the next headache sees you having to decide on what needs replacing and how much you’ll spend on replacing it.
Will minimum expense be critical or have you decided to put the investment into an essential item of bar equipment so that it will serve you as a long-term investment rather than just in the next couple of years only?
We spoke to a number of publicans who’d opened or recently renovated their bars in the last few months about their experience and about what they’d consider to be their ‘three essential items of bar equipment’.
Their responses were illuminating.
Brian Harvey runs JT Pims, the new outlet on South Great George’s Street in Dublin. The premises has been closed for the past three years so virtually everything has had to be replaced.
“With bar equipment you want to get 10 to 15 years out of it, not five, so high levels of investment are necessary,” says Brian.
The bar sports one cocktail mixer machine and one huge Winterhalter ice-making machine.
JT Pims functions on two levels, with the downstairs bar utillising a dedicated cocktail section to the upstairs lounge at ground level.
Notably, all the beer countermounts use the same-sized uniform taps with the same-sized logos, so no customised countermounts for any particular brand of beer stand out here.
Brian considers the outlet’s non-slip flooring, supplied in this case by Andrew Weadick Carpets in Walkinstown (who also supplied the non-stick tiling), to be an essential in any bar and just for good measure, 39 strategically-sited CCTV cameras from Maximum Security ensure that there’s not a blind spot in the entire building.
Similarly, without a performing glasswasher such as the one he’s installed from Winterhalter, a bar would soon be in trouble on any given night.
“Items of equipment such as these must be fit-for-purpose and fast,” he emphasises.
Another vital, the EPOS system, was purchased rather than rented from Absdolute Retail Control. These have to be sturdy machines, says Brian, they must be able to take more than their fair share of wear and tear.
Important too these days, Brian can adjust the bar’s lighting to reflect the mood at the time whether it be lunchtime or late in the evening thanks to the ambient lighting system supplied by Kells Electrical.
The company also fitted the sound system at JT Pims which uses the Secret DJ system for playing customers’ choices.
With so many coffee shops within easy reach of the bar, Brian has had to ensure that only the best coffee is served in JT Pims.
“Coffee has to be made all the time, so it’s important to be able to get it right,” he explains, knowing that outlets producing good coffee get aired more by word-of-mouth among the coffee cognoscenti.
His coffee researches found him knocking on the door of Baobab Coffee Roasters who not only supply different styles of coffee for different seasons, but recommended that he install an Astoria coffee-making machine which, while being completely computerised, can also be individually controlled.
Similarly, wine by the glass can offer a variety of styles to JT Pims’ customers – the bar stocks about 25 different wines by the glass thanks to use of the Verre de Vin from Febvre which provides a shelf-life of up to 20 days for the wine.
Formerly Kielys of Mount Merrion in South County Dublin the latest scion from the Press Up Entertainment Group has been completely refitted and is very much in keeping with the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
Only the public bar, cleaned up but left essentially its old-world self for the venue’s ‘regulars’, remains.
Union Café re-opened just before Christmas and the lounge has been made bright and airy with the result that the new-look venue proves popular throughout the day from morning snacks and coffees to drinks in the evening all the way to its 12.30 close.
It’s a mid-morning Monday when I visit Press Up’s General Manager Barry Cassidy and Union Café’s Bar Manager there Shane Russell at what I take to be a very busy café bar but Barry tells me that even this level of custom is considered quiet as we’re now in mid-term break from school so there aren’t as many mothers taking a break after dropping off their children to school.
Again, the neat countermount arrangement in both the lounge and the public bar bears a uniform symmetry so that no ‘New York skyline’ of differing branded pump countermounts confronts the customer. This formerly untidy arrangement was beginning to look a bit ridiculous believe the pair.
“It kills symmetry and aesthetics,” explains Barry while Shane points out that the pub also offers 24 craft beers by the bottle.
Micros Systems/Oracle supplied the EPOS system used by Union Café. This provides back-office intelligence allowing sight of what’s in stock, what’s selling, who’s selling it and how much of it they’re selling.
“It helps us know what to push and who’s selling most of it for us,” explains Barry.
The pub’s ice-machine was supplied by Geko while they’ve had to take on a third Opera coffee machine from suppliers 250 Square to cope with the unprecedented demand for coffee at Union Café.
“Coffee accounts for a significant proportion of our turnover,” says Shane. Originally, they started off with one two-gauge machine and one three-gauge machine for the pub’s full-time barista, but recently had to add another two-gauge machine just to cope.
Barry reckons that a glasswasher is an essential in any pub – in this case, a Casa/Lasa Winterhalter model – along with an accurate quarter-gill measure and a good cocktail shaker for show.
Something unusual – Union Café has its own fruit dehydrator which removes moisture from fruits such as limes, pineapples and oranges. The sliced dehydrated fruits are then put out on display in jars and are subsequently powdered to add to cocktails as and when required. They last up to a year in this condition, says Shane who’s also a big fan of having a good speedrail to allow drinks be made up all the quicker without the mixologist having to march up and down the bar in search of ingredients, core spirits or ice.
Union Café offers a full range of fresh and mixed fruit juices and cocktails, made up on the spot for the customer. Iced coffee has been made available here too.
The bar offers seven white wines by the glass, six red wines and a rosé with 15 red and white wines available by the bottle.
The wines by the glass enjoy a rapid enough turnover so Shane’s not too concerned about re-sealing them.
However as a rule-of-thumb, no wines are left longer than two days in an open bottle. If so, they’re given across to the Deli/off-licence at the entrance to the building for a free tasting for customers visiting.
McGettigans in Bray
They take their sport seriously in newly-opened McGettigans in Bray, County Wicklow, which boasts no less than 13 fifty-inch flatscreens supplied by Sound to LIght.
The outlet forms part of McGettigan’s Royal Hotel in the town. Indeed the McGettigan Hotel group has spread far and wide with nine hotels now servicing patrons in Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Letterkenny, Limerick and even Dubai.
Owned by Dennis McGettigan, the Bray bar is run by General Manager Dominic Kelly who explained that all the bar equipment was installed new when it opened here on 4th December last year, just in time for the Christmas rush. It now employs some 21 staff.
Dominic gave me a whistle-stop tour of the place before we sat down to talk about his essential items of bar equipment.
One of the more striking features behind the bars scene is the glycol cooling system, designed to keep waste beer to a minimum and to maintain the same temperature in the beer so that the quality of the pint is perfect every time for the 35 bar pumps which supply the two-part bar as well as the adjacent Quinn bar and function room.
AA Caterex supplies the 14 cooling cabinets and a glass fridge keeps glasses cold.
As for hot, the bars require two Franke coffee machines to meet the demand for coffees – and for teas there’s the ubiquitous Micro burner for heating water.
Air conditioning throughout the building comes via a Frigo Bohn aircon system sited in the cellar.
As we sit down to chat, Dominic shows me another useful device operated by an app on his mobile, the Weissbeerger Beverage Analytics tracker.
This app utilises a sensor that connects directly to the beer tap, providing up-to-the-minute data on sell-out volume, beer quality metrics, out-of-stock alerts and more.
“I can use this to track how many pints of Heineken or Coors have been sold, when the last time was that the barrel was changed etc,” says Dominic, adding that it’s good for shadowing stock-taking.
“We stock-take every two weeks so this works as a backup to the stock-taker’s report,” he says.
Dominic cites his essential items of functioning bar equipment as being the pumps and taps, the Micros tills and the coldroom.
The glasswasher supplied by Bunzl McLaughlin too is essential, he adds.
Six wines by the glass are sold at McGettigans and with these, turnover is sufficient not to merit a sealing system, he says – anyway, a lot of it is now screwcap.
A wine fridge – Bunz McLaughlin supplied again – holds the white wines at a comfortably cool temperature for the forthcoming days of warmth.
Premier Refrigeration – listening to customers
Over the years we‘ve listened to our customers’ requirements and carefully selected manufacturers who can deliver reliable and affordable products to suit these needs.
To that end we‘ve developed a good working relationship with all our suppliers and continue to seek out future improvements and additions to our current range.
The following forms part of our current range of fit-out equipment:
Our extensive range of Ceili Beer fonts and branding, available in a range of style and finishes, will enhance the look of any bar counter.
This German-designed and -manufactured range of glass/dishwashers deliver affordable easy-to-use reliability, ensuring perfect presentation of all glassware and crockery every time.
Brema Ice-Making Machines
Available in a wide range of options, all with a stainless steel finish, based on production and storage, cubes or crushed ice, Brema ice-making machines can supply the solution to enhance the presentation of drinks and cocktails.
Under-counter stainless steel systems
Custom-designed and manufactured to suit individual requirements, stainless steel under-counter systems offer the most hygienic space-saving solutions.
Gamko Bottle Coolers
Designed and manufactured in the Netherlands since 1958, Gamko coolers, available in a wide range of configurations and finishes (with energy-efficient refrigeration and exceptional storage capacity), provide excellent presentation for bottled beer, wine and minerals.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Air Conditioners
A world-leading design and manufacturer of high efficiency split-type air conditioning systems in an extensive range of duties, each is capable of delivering either cooling or heating to guarantee a comfortable atmosphere.