A customer...a regular came in on Saturday. It was slower than usual and we got to chatting about remodeling, (shes in the middle of a home project) and she threw the question out. What would i have done differently?   I started explaining how sometimes things didn't "flow" right, how the machine placement was a bit off, how i cant see every seat in the house from behind the bar, and how the money was spent in the wrong places.  (I don't own the place...thank the lord) We had a solid 20 minute conversation over the topic.  So, I'm throwing out the question to you shop owners!  What would be different?   I know it may be tough to explain because we haven't seen each others shops but it will i think it could get interesting.  Also, is there anyone out there that is completely satisfied with the space they have. If so, please let us know how you got there! I may be inclined to come visit. Thanks, Jesse

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As a "coffee house advisor", the most important aspect of any successful shop is the "flow". Correct placement of equipment, "grab-n-go" items, and traffic direction should be priority ONE!! You can spend money & time later on decorative features. A beautiful piece of art will not make or break a business, but a "chaotic" point of sale can be the downfall. A customer comes in first for the purchased item and second for the atmosphere. Our company has 10 retail locations and each one starts with "flow" as the first concept. Hope this helps!
I'm happy with our layout and flow.

We spent quite a bit of time in the "paper doll" stage of bar design. I work visually, so at one point we had a huge mockup of the bar and primary customer areas hanging on my living room wall. I bought a pack of those inkjet perforated business card blanks, made each one represent a 3 foot "bar module" (espresso machine, register+counter, grinders+syrup, cold drink prep area, etc), then taped them to the layout. We then ran through a bunch of different orders, tracing out the steps taken by each staff member, and tweaked the layout to minimize steps taken and overlapping paths. We loosely applied a design approach that I think is called "work triangles", which is a commonly used home kitchen design concept. It worked well for us, 2-1/2 years later and there's nothing I would change.

We also tried to visualize customer sight lines and imagine customer flow. We got it pretty close, though the customer doesn't always move like we want them to :).

The challenge to me seems to be working around the constraints of your space. Our main challenges were overall size and shape - the curve of the bar needed to match an existing architectural feature AND leave enough room for a small kitchen.
Well, I'm not a shop owner, but the café where I work is in the process of implementing my redesign of the prep area. I'll post pictures of the course of the weekend!
When we first started out, I hated our place. The flow made no sense, spaces where we spent most of the day standing had no room and felt crammed, shelving was made to fit the building and not be conveniently accessible, its was pretty bad.

It took a solid year of re arranging and remodeling before we got things how we like them, and now there is a flow and it makes sense. It goes back to something I often talk about at our company which is you don't want your plans/goals to be driven by what NEEDS to be done next, as a result you will find that even if you had a prior plan/layout, you may not be able to stick to it.
When we set about designing and building the new Spro over a year ago, there were a number of things that I knew I wanted to incorporate into the design: drawered milk refrigerator, pitcher rinser, dipwell, 34" counters, brew bar with integrated appliances and cold brew towers.

To help visualize how the space would work, we built mockups of the cabinetry in the actual space to see fitment and flow. Overall, I was very pleased with this approach and highly recommend it. Much more telling than working on paper or with models - especially if you're wondering if a 30" work space will be too cramped compared to 36".

And now that Spro is complete and open, there are still a number of details that I would like to change: rinse sink with the pitcher rinser, more counter space, more drawers, more storage, better recycling bin layout, better dishtray placement, refrigerated pastry case, larger brew bar - but nothing dramatically different than the current design.

Then again, we'll see what happens when we start designing the next space!

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