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Food for Thought - Rapids' Blog
Finding the right back bar cooler for your needs is easier than you may think.
First, you need to identify the space requirements (dimensions) that you have available for a cooler unit, as well as the accessibility of the space around it.
Secondly, clarify your storage needs. Are you looking for a place for backup kegs close to your beer dispenser? Is it bottle or cans you want close at hand? Are you replacing an existing unit?
Third, you need to consider what kind of finish would best enhance the current ambiance of your establishment.
If these considerations sound overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ve broken down the different options available to you, as well as any applicable benefits and disadvantages, so you should be able to choose the right cooler for your establishment in no time!
Commercial Back Bar Cooler Sizes
With the above in mind, let’s first talk about dimensions.
The first thing you should know before you purchase is that the dimensions in the title of a unit are not exact! In fact, it’s usually around ½- ¾” smaller or larger than the actual unit. For instance, the title might say 60” when in fact the actual width is 60-1/8”. Instead, you should rely on the dimensions given on the product page.
The same can be said for units marketed as narrow or slim. These units have a lot of storage in a smaller footprint, but depth size could be shown in the title as narrow 25” when the depth is really 25-1/2.” In tight conditions, half an inch can really make a difference, so before you purchase look for the actual dimensions!
Back Bar Cooler Range of Sizes
Back Bar Cooler Width Range
Back bar coolers range in width from 24” to 90”. You can safely estimate that per 24” of space, you can store 144 bottles or 180 12-ounce cans.
Back Bar Cooler Depth Range
The depth ranges from 25-1/2” to 32”. If you need the more shallow depth, look for the bottle coolers that identify as slim or narrow.
Back Bar Cooler Height Range
There are fewer options to choose from when it comes to height - units range from 34-1/4” to 39”. It is still an important factor though, as some back bar coolers are designed to slide under your existing bar or built-in cabinets. These usually save you money, as the top is going to be made from galvanized steel (as opposed to stainless). If this is the option you are looking for, use search terms such as “under bar” or “galvanized top.”
Back Bar Bottle Cooler Door Options
Back bar bottle coolers have three kinds of doors - Solid doors that swing open, glass doors that swing open, or glass doors that slide. Each type has benefits and drawbacks you'll want to consider.
Solid Door Back Bar Coolers
Solid door back bar coolers generally cost a bit less than a glass door model, as they don’t provide that extra merchandising value. They are the more energy-efficient option though, because the doors are insulated with foamed-in-place polyurethane. If displaying your product is not necessary, solid door back bar coolers are a great option.
Glass Door Back Bar Coolers
Glass door coolers offer visibility to the interior of your cooler. They help merchandise your beverage products through the use of attractive lighting, and they help your bartenders find the products they want quickly and easily. Bars that have moved from a solid front to a glass front back bar cooler have seen a boost in beverage sales, and many attribute it to their customers being able to see product options.
If you decide to go with glass doors, you will then have to choose between swing and sliding doors.
Glass swing doors are hinged and open from the side. Since they swing out into your aisle, they can be an obstruction for a busy bar with multiple bartenders. They do still have benefits, though - the doors are self-closing (which saves energy), and most come with easy-to-replace gaskets.
A glass sliding door moves on a horizontal track, so in a bar or restaurant where working space is tight, these can be your best choice. Sliding glass doors do not close automatically, however; so employees can inadvertently leave the doors open, wasting energy and raising the temperature of your beverage products.
Choosing the Exterior Finish of Your Back Bar Cooler
Back bar beverage refrigerators come in two exterior finishes: stainless steel or black laminated vinyl.
Stainless steel provides a bright, beautiful finish and is more difficult to dent, though it can be scratched. It will also need to be cleaned more often, but easily polishes to a bright shine.
Black vinyl offers a more subtle look, costs less than stainless, and does not show fingerprints or smudges. The downside is that the vinyl laminate can chip or scratch, causing the exterior to peel.