Monday, February 1, 2016

The Bar Itself

Sorry for the lack of updates on this blog for the past few months.  At the end of November, we finally dismissed the contractor due to excessive delays. Now that he's gone, the project is entirely in our hands, which is great news because in the last two months, we have completed more work then was done in the previous 6! We are extremely happy to be working on the project directly instead of waiting, but it applies some pressure... Now, there is now no one to blame if things go slow, we only need to push ourselves, and we are!

There's been an enormous amount of work done, but let me just focus on the Bar itself... The physical thing that you put your elbow on when ordering a drink.

Designing a bar has proven to be about as challenging as we expected. There are so many considerations. A good bar has a lot of essential ergonomics that most people never give a second thought too.  The height must be exactly right, the distance between the bar lip and supporting wall must feel comfortable, and give the right space for legs when sitting. A footrest is not an afterthought, there have actually been studies showing that people linger substantially longer if they have a place to rest a foot. Lighting has to be right.  Shelves have to grab attention and be functional.  Equipment must be placed logically for the best efficiency. Space is always at a premium and must be allocated intelligently.

We did a fair amount of research, and honestly, the more I read, the more scared I became.  There are so many considerations, and many of them can create a hard to solve disaster if not properly planned out. If you forget to leave enough space for the right size ice machine, business can suffer and fixing it is probably not going to be easy.

On top of that, we have almost zero experience in this part of the business.

As I mentioned in the last post, we found a really good local kitchen equipment company (Refrinovar).  They helped a lot, and were particularly patient with our lack of knowledge (and our week Portuguese language skills too).

Having the equipment sorted out, we got to get to the exciting stuff...  What the thing would actually look like:

 Early on we decided to do something in carved wood. At first we were really hoping to find an Art Deco or Art Nouveau design that we could try to copy, but it was a struggle.  Ultimately, our Architect, João came up with a geometric design with a subtle relief.

 It all came together over a several month period. We made several mock ups, and tried lots of different options. I'm not sure the result is want any of us had in mind when we started, but we are really happy with the way it came together.

 Most people will probably drink at the bar without noticing the detailed design, and that's fine. We wanted it to be nice, but not attract too much attention to itself.

Full credit goes to our fantastic carpenters for executing this. They have really done an outstanding job on everything we have asked them to do. If anyone is looking for a great carpenter in Portugal, I begin to say enough to recommend Carpintaria Parque! These guys are AMAZING. They did all the doors and windows on the property using the traditional custom techniques. They were able to do anything we asked, and always to an exceptional level of quality. Whenever we have had problems they were there in an instant and never complained even when the fix required tearing out a lot of work.

For the bar top, we originally wanted to use copper. We struggled to find a supplier who could install it in Portugal at a reasonable price. Ultimately, we decided to switch for brass because we found a brass foot rail and some nice lamps with brass fittings which can be attached directly to the bar.  Here's a few pictures of the final product:

 As you can probably see from these pictures, we are getting pretty close to complete.  There are still a lot of little details, but I think you can plan on spring this year.