Requirements for Equipment and Structure of Bars

The Requirements for Equipment and Structure of Bar provides guidance on the minimum standards for the design, construction and equipment of bars, service bars and similar food establishments.

See the Regulations Governing Sanitation of Food Establishments, Chapter 4, 5 and 6 for complete regulatory requirements.

All equipment must be National Sanitation Foundation, International (NSFI) certified or equivalent.

Materials and Finishes

  1. Bar dies (and bar under counters) must be backed with fiberglass reinforced plastic panels (FRP), and be professionally trimmed. Bar tops may be of any smooth, cleanable material.
  2. Back bars may be made of the same materials provided no food equipment or open beverages are stored on or in the back bar, with the exception of unopened liquor bottles.
  3. Equipment counters, including bar-tops, back bars with equipment, drink and food preparation counters and scupper rails must be stainless steel, corian-like, granite or other approved food contact material.
  4. Wood and wood composite (millwork) casework or understructure, wood or wood composite and plastic laminate materials may not be used under, in or over food preparation areas or wet areas for shelving, structural support and cabinetry or as a preparation surface. Metal or other materials meeting the “food zone” material and construction requirement of NSFI/ANSI Standard 2 may be used for food preparation surfaces. Metal framing must be used for all structures under counter tops used for food preparation or on which food equipment is installed and/or plumbed.Back bars may use wood for structural support provided it is full encapsulated with impervious material (stainless steel or FRP), has a food-grade solid surface top, and is not penetrated for equipment, piping, plumbing, wiring, or other utilities. Any area where the countertop is penetrated by food equipment, water and drainage lines, beverage system supply lines or other utility service must use metal understructure to support the counter. Millwork, wood or wood composite cabinetry, and other wood support structure is prohibited.
  5. Any area used for the storage of food products must have a solid surface countertop with a radius backsplash (or other approved cleanable angle treatment) such as stainless steel, granite, corian-like or similar material approved for food contact. Exposed wood understructure must be sealed with a cleanable surface treatment such as FRP or stainless steel, with trimmed strips at butt joints and angle trim strips at the corners.


  1. A three-compartment sink with integral double drain boards is required for drink establishments. A dish or glass washer cannot substitute for a three-compartment sink. Three-compartment sinks must have tubs of equal size, with two distinct and equal size attached drain-boards, of a size equal to each tub or larger. Sink tubs must be sized to allow for the immersion of the largest kitchenware to be washed. A bar must have a three-compartment sink sized for its needs.If an establishment has both a restaurant and a bar, both of which are under the same ownership, then the three-compartment sink of the restaurant may be used for the bar if:
    1. The three-compartment sink is within a reasonable distance of the bar;
    2. The transport pathway is inside the building and on the same floor;
    3. The bar and kitchen have the same permit holder;
    4. The bar is provided a glass washer installed in lieu of the required three-compartment sink. The glass washer must be sized to accept all small wares in use at the bar.
  2. Dishwashers and glass washers must have both a dirty and clean side drain-board landing of adequate size, and pre-wash dump sink. Regulations require these drain boards to be integral to the dish or glass washer, but may be adjacent provided they are integrated as a functional unit. All dish tables and drain boards must drain to sewer.
  3. Drains: All sinks, with the exception of hand sinks and mop (janitor’s) sinks must be indirectly connected to a floor sink with an approved air-gap. Hand sinks and mop (janitor’s) sinks may be directly drained to an approved sewer.
  4. Hand Sinks: A bar must have at least one hand washing station. All hand sinks must be wall mounted, separate and distinct, and be at least 18 inches from food preparation or utensil storage surfaces. Splash guards must be used if the space available is inadequate to allow for separation.
  5. Dump Sinks: Since hand sinks may not be used for purposes other than hand washing, and three-compartment sinks must be available at all times for warewashing, a dump sink is required for the disposal of liquid matter from bussed glasses and other tableware. Dump sinks may not be provided with soap and towels. Blender stations may double as dump sink.
  6. Mop Sinks: A mop sink, accessible to bar personnel, must be available for use. The mop sink must be installed in a location and in such a way as to not pose a cross contamination risk to food or food contact surfaces.

Drink-pouring stations and jockey boxes: All bars mixing open drinks must have a properly constructed pour station and/or jockey box. Jockey boxes must have built-in cold plates. Counters above jockey boxes must have scupper rails made of stainless steel, properly drained, positioned above the jockey box. Ice must be protected from contamination in all cases. High volume bars, such as those serving large gaming floors, may be required to install full counter scupper rails.

Refrigeration: All refrigerators must be National Sanitation Foundation, International (NSFI) certified of equivalent. Each bar must have at least one general standard 7 refrigerator if the bar stores open products, in addition to “beer boxes” that are generally labeled either “This equipment is intended for the storage and display of packaged products only” or “This equipment is intended for the storage and display of non-potentially hazardous, bottled or packaged products only” (ANSI/NSF 7, sections 5.34.1 and 5.34.2).

Lighting: Regulations require a minimum of 50 foot/candles of light measured at “…all surfaces used for preparing food and at work levels used to wash equipment or utensils…” A bar may be required to install under counter lighting so that the drink/food preparation and ware washing lighting requirements are met, while limiting the effect on the bar “atmosphere.” These lighting fixtures are required to have adequate bulb shielding.

Restrooms: A minimally compliant restroom for use by employees is required. See Food Service Establishment Plan Review Requirements for Equipment and Facilities.

Other: For all other structural requirements, see Food Service Establishment Plan Review Requirements for Equipment and Facilities.

Contact Information

(702) 759-1258


Updated on: October 11, 2018