This methodology and approach, which draws on Proof Creative’s 100+ years of team experience running some of the region’s most awarded bars, is designed to help with overall venue development & to guide the pre-opening allocation of time & resources.

By following the 20 Pillar Plan, we get to create a ‘Golden Thread’ – a story and concept that is woven through all the different pillars.

Here are definitions and supporting commentary on how best to approach concept development and how to creatively and critically think about each individual pillar to get the best, most cohesive outcome for a bar opening.

Whether it’s helping with some new cocktails, or working on a concept from scratch, we would love to chat about your bar, brand or new project.


The starting point and foundation that all other pillars are placed when developing a new bar concept. A clearly defined and compelling concept will drive all other creative and commercial decisions throughout the 20 Pillar Plan. Proof Creative calls this our Golden Thread.

A curated drinks offering that reflects and reinforces the venue’s golden thread. A diverse yet appropriate number of drinks, products, and menus. Beverages of all categories should be well considered. Often centred around a cocktail list that incorporates creativity and culinary techniques.

Heartfelt and thoughtful food will enhance the guest’s experience. Staple drinking food, signature dishes are important and often will feature inventive preparation and specialised ingredients. Food menus can champion the concept, while boosting pillars such as service, programming, collateral.

Operating supplies and equipment that fit the narrative and guest experience in a tactile way. Hardware to make ingredients, and vessels to enjoy them. This can be broken down into 3 categories: glass & service ware, bartender tools and BOH minor, major equipment and bolstered with the addition of custom designed pieces.

The human element of a concept and the people that drive the experience day-to-day. A team to bring it all to life is the most important part of a business. Appointing a high-profile leader to spearhead the team can increase industry or local attention. Fostering a team over an extended period can benefit the business immeasurably.

Defining the style of service, will reinforce the bar concept, and be a key indicator to guests of the level of attentiveness they can expect during their visit. Venues should develop internal SOP’s and incorporate public speaking practices to increase customer communication and leave lasting memorable impressions.

Ambiance is the combination of multiple sensory factors which affect guests’ comfort and energy levels without them being cognisant.  Comfort, energy, temperature, sound, lighting and aroma are all key factors that can be affected with a purpose to define the ambiance.

Technology now plays a major role in venue operations, both guest-facing and back end; a stream of seemingly infinite new digital tools has come to the fore in recent years. Utilising tech in both operational & experience capacities, but without losing the human factor of the bar is key to this pillar.

The brand is every visual, emotional, and tactile interaction a guest has with a bar; before they visit, during their stay, and when they leave. Each venue should have a unique identity, an evocative name and a stringent set of Brand Guidelines that it can bring to the market to make it indelible to guests.

The core suite of collateral, both digital & physical that are developed for venue operations and should also play a role in promoting the brand. Split between ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’, these can become aspirational items for guests to take home with them or be shared on their social networks.

The first visual clue guests have as to the concept of the bar; team appearance is of utmost importance to create impressions. Thoughtfulness and creativity around aesthetic, material and comfort of the uniform are crucial, while allowing for a certain amount of customisation to give guests an understanding of team roles.

Branded merchandise has become the norm in the hospitality industry and should be used as an opportunity for extra revenue streams and astute marketing tools.  Products should be on-brand, fit the concept narrative and be concise as opposed to across-the-board or gift shop style.

Cohesiveness between design and concept is what makes the bar feel alive. This can be done through continued use of colour, lighting, ornaments, and tchotchkes to convey the theme through design language and staging.

Layout decisions commence early in the concept and design stage, as they will influence the venue’s flow and direction through the Service and Ambiance pillar. Thoughtful layouts maximise bar revenues, create intimate moments in an inviting place to be. Tactile and visually compelling FFE can literally ‘make the room’.

Music is the soundtrack to the bar concept. The venue playlist should be heavily curated and become the heartbeat of a bar. Choice of music should follow the golden thread and be consistent in its track selection & rotation and enhance the overall drinking and eating experience.

A world-class bar requires a dedicated stream of marketing and outreach strategies to help build revenue and garner continuous media and community attention. Split between public relations, traditional and digital marketing, can have a huge impact on brand recognition and commercial success.

Continued curated activity will help drive revenue, help market the concept to guests, and spread awareness within the wider hospitality community. Programming can be split up into daily in-service rituals, regular and calendar events, or even nightly entertainment that helps create brand loyalty and returned visits.

Community bonds venues to their surroundings, the city they are located in, and the people they serve — both within the industry and the general public. This pillar helps define the core ethical values of a concept through interactions and offers an opportunity for the team to assist in charitable or social causes.

This pillar refers to how a concept connects, affects and supports the local environment around it, through its day-to-day operations, philosophy and service. Cultivating a truthful narrative around responsible practices is becoming increasingly attractive to guests, looking to utilise their spending power as ethically as possible.

The success of both concept and business depends on detailed planning and budgeting. Focus on drivers like margins, pricing, average spend and trading periods should drive forecasting while identifying key focus areas can help define OPEX and form the P&L. A dedicated strategy must be fine-tuned for both the concept and local markets.