Outdoor Bars

Looking to the future

8 smart ways to maximise outdoor space this year

Article first published on Linked in.

With The Government outlining a route out of lockdown this week, pubs, hotels and restaurants look likely to re-open from 12 April onwards. Crucially however, this transition will take place outdoors – meaning alfresco space will be key to the revival of hospitality this summer. 

For many brands, this will mean adapting to new landscapes and a fresh set of rules. And it’ll also mean reassuring customers with a new approach to eating and drinking out that keeps everyone safe. 

The challenge is to maximise covers, and make up for lost revenue, while using space – especially outdoor areas – in a smart, safe and cost-effective manner. 

A well set-up mobile bar is central to this scenario, allowing brands to capitalise on new or unused areas of space in a way that exactly fits an operational brief. It should  also be able to pivot effortlessly between different outdoor locations, with bespoke branding that can be changed in an instant. 

And, for event providers and hotels alike, a mobile bar can be moved back indoors as the rules allow (and/or once we head into colder months again) and be used for Christmas events and to support indoor bars.  For those looking ahead to new opportunities this year, here’s how the Portabar mobile bar system can unlock growth in the outdoors: 

Pop up Bar

1. Develop a multipurpose space

The great thing about outdoor space is that there’s more freedom to play around: it’s less of a static entity. This means it can be reinvented over and over again; not just with the physical layout, but also in terms of its purpose. 

Our clients at SUSHISAMBA used Portabar to deliver a series of small plates and sushi platters alongside their signature cocktails. These alfresco food counters allowed them to expand service at their Covent Garden site, reaching a new generation of customers and extending their presence into the Piazza.

It’s clever because it works so smoothly, allowing SUSHISAMBA to operate on a number of levels at the same time. Using this example, it’s easy to see how restaurants can use outdoor space to attract new customers and provide an alternative dining experience whilst at the same time creating extra covers in a Covid-safe way.

When the lockdown restrictions were eased last autumn, this same bar was then taken to SUSHISAMBA in Heron Tower and used on the restaurant’s 38th floor terrace.

outdoor Portable Bar

2. Set the stage for safe mixing with multiple bars at once

Creating socially-distanced spaces will be at the heart of hospitality this year – the Portabar system means that it can be divided into smaller bars which can create quicker service, with distance between the bars.  So a 5-bay centrepiece Portabar (as above) can become two smaller bars. 

The versatility of the Portabar system makes this very simple to do: stainless steel components simply rearrange themselves, linking seamlessly together like giant Lego pieces to form a larger bar, or breaking apart for a series of smaller installations. 

The advantage of this architecture in a 2021 events space is clear to see: having smaller bars dotted across an outdoor events space encourages guests to spread out, rather than congregating in one place. 

Farewell, bar queues and close-knit mingling. Hello, acres of space for people to move about in, with easy drinks access at multiple points.

Bar in a Box

3.Adapt to any environment, anywhere in the world

Another huge asset of Portabar’s versatile component system is that it can flex to fit almost any setting imaginable. 

Want a two-bay Portabar for a party on a superyacht? It’ll fit right in between the jacuzzi and the deck entrance. Need a mobile drinks service that pops up on a Swiss mountain, for the ultimate luxury experience hosted by a nearby hotel? Portabar will do the honours in style. Packed into flightcases no location is too inaccessible, as Mixolab, our client in St. Barts (above) shows  – by the pool one moment and onto a yacht the next. Whatever outdoor space Portabar’s operating in – from bustling city pavements to secluded terraces – it can adapt to fit seamlessly. 

And thanks to this unique capacity, our hotel, restaurant and stadium clients are often able to utilise forgotten corners of outdoor space. With Portabar to hand, event space takes on a fresh new dimension, with the bar used to harness and upgrade a hidden nook or area of garden that is otherwise overlooked. 

Outdoor Mobile Bar

4. Use bespoke branding elements

Portabar’s mobile bar system is fully customisable – a great thing when clients need to adapt rapidly to a series of outdoor settings and messages.

This Portabar from an event by The Bartender Hire Company shows how it’s done. Cladding is used to create bespoke brand messaging that sets the tone of the event. The colour and font chimes nicely with the backdrop, creating a smart centrepiece that makes it hard to believe it’s actually a temporary structure. 

This sleek branding solution means events companies can move effortlessly between different outdoor events, bringing a unique personality to each. As a bartender or events manager, it opens up the ability to curate more events in less time, with bespoke styling options on tap.


5. Create more options with backfitting

Yes, there’s more flexibility with outdoor events, but space is still at a premium – and Portabar’s backfitting options can help make the most of what’s on offer. 

Alongside a full range of adaptable shapes and styles with the main bar, the backfitting opens up scope for additional features. For a pop-up bar that wows, for example, look to our lit spirit tiers with dimmable switches. Or, it’s possible to drum up a sense of occasion in any given events space by applying magnetic drinks menus and other messaging that inspires customers to try and buy.

On a more practical level, the backfitting allows space for extra fridges, shelving or lockable drawers, along with beer dispense – all of which can make a pop-up space work harder and offer a wider range of drinks.

Portable Bar

6. Keep it simple

The Great Outdoors can be an unpredictable stage to play from; but at the very least, Portabar can keep things simple.

For starters, there’s no call for small, complicated fixings with Portabar: it slots together with satisfying ease. The entire system is designed to be built in minutes, and disassembled in the same time – simply pack it away into a compact flight case, ready for the next destination.

This makes for a very intuitive system that nonetheless has everything needed for smooth service in the field. Prep sinks, handwash sinks, shelving, ice chests, speed rails and more: all are available as part of the design to support seamless outdoor service. It’s a platform created for operational excellence, and delivered with minimal fuss. 

Flatpack Bar

7. Move around easily with compact flight cases

Moving bars outdoors can be problematic, yet Portabar takes the stress out of the process with smart flight cases. No location is too difficult with the support of these compact, wheeled structures that store the bar safely and move it easily from A to B. 

Last year our client Pernod Ricard Nigeria shipped 47 Portabar flight cases from our base in Gloucestershire all the way to sunny Lagos and beyond without a hiccup. Our portable cocktail bars regularly travel the world in this manner, accessing all kinds of wonderful and far-flung venues. 

So, transporting them between different outdoor venues is a breeze, and it can happen quickly to accommodate temporary settings. For example, if a restaurant has a license to operate on a city pavement between certain hours of the evening, the flight cases allow the bar to be packed away and stored overnight when service is over.

Festival Bar

8. Get creative with extra flourishes

Portabar as a system is very simple to use, and its bespoke branding elements make it a breeze to style. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Once the outline of the portable bar is in place, it’s possible to continue adding little touches to bring an events space alive. Just look at this eclectic pop-up by Asia De Cuba at Taste of London festival (taken in a pre-Covid era). 

The bar design itself couldn’t be more straight-forward. But the creators have added in layers of texture and colour to infuse the area with vibrancy. Bold fabrics, vintage posters and a homey bookshelf all create a distinct sense of place that makes the setting stand out. Even little details like pot plants or fairy lights can be used to spectacular effect. 

Any other brand can do the same, making Portabar’s pop-up bar system the centrepiece around which to maximise outdoor space. From design elements to new business ideas, the potential is endless. 

Because it’s so adaptable, Portabar has a vital role to play here. Our unique mobile bar system is made up of a series of components that can reconfigure to form different sizes and shapes of bar in moments. So whether a venue needs something small and compact or large and statement-making, Portabar can do both from the same design – and everything in-between. 

Want to reinvent your outdoor space this summer? We’d love to hear from you – please do get in touch with our team to discuss ideas via a free consultation.

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