Posted by Patrick Maness
To operate a successful food bar, your customers need to go with the flow — the flow of the bar that is. The proper flow eliminates confusion, reduces the risk of accidents and cuts needless waste. The benefits are obvious, and now you just need to determine the best flow type for your food bar.
Most food bars flow in one of the three patterns below. Take a look at each and determine which is best for you based on your customer base, your product and your space.
Coming full circle. Establishing a circular flow places the food bar in the center and invites guests to surround it in one, giant circle. This flow pattern creates a feeling of togetherness, but you need to have a large amount of space to establish a circular flow. The pattern can create confusion, too, because the line's beginning and end are not clearly established.
Line up! The predominant flow choice everywhere else in the world, the single-file line is easy for guests to follow and use. It is also the most space-friendly flow option as well. However, because the single line brings guests past every aspect of your food bar, it tends to slow the process down and sometimes makes customers feel trapped. In order to keep things moving quickly, it’s a good idea to partition off items like deserts, silverware or beverages to other areas where customers can get them if they need them. This will keep the central line moving more quickly.
An option for either side. If one line is good for your customers, two lines are great, right? Many food bar owners build their space with this idea in mind, inviting guests to interact with the food bar from both sides. This option allows for more creative displays and solves many sanitation and congestion concerns. Just remember to adorn both sides of the bar with the same fare to prevent customer crossover and any associated confusion.
Three different flow options, three different considerations. No matter which you choose, establishing a flow will benefit your food bar. Just make sure you pick one, as it can help turn your panicking patrons into content customers and boost your business in the process.
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