Local F&B Dynamo Shares His Secret Pet Project


I keep a lot of industry secrets—bartenders’ next moves, executives’ big plans, new venues and doomed ones. So when a colleague finally spills their beans on the record, we can at last celebrate. This week, I give you the first of two recent causes for ”Cheers!”

Bartenders, to Your Stations!

That sly devil—Tobin Ellis thought he could just revolutionize the bar industry on the DL? This week, Perlick, an industry leader in bar equipment and beverage dispensing systems, will announce a partnership with Ellis to build a better bar starting with the well. The Tobin Ellis Signature Cocktail Station will be unveiled in February at the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers tradeshow (NAFEM) in Anaheim, California. Ellis popped the cork December 2 on his company BarMagic’s Facebook page.

What qualifies Ellis to put his name on a bar design? Well, he has 26 years of bartending, hospitality and nightlife experience. The six-time National Bartending Champion and founder of the Flair Bartenders’ Association has been designing and building bars worldwide for the past 10 years, and has served as a technical adviser and judge for a number of television networks including A&E, Travel Channel, Food Network and NBC. (Plus, he throws a mean moveable speakeasy party—remember Social Mixology?)

After a decade of listening to bartenders and operators complain about their bar’s faulty design (and paying Ellis to fix it), he did next logical thing by designing a “bartender cockpit,” an efficient, ergonomic bar station that anticipates the needs of craft bars, restaurants and high-volume nightclubs. This means bartenders take no more than two steps to reach everything they need, with minimal bending and reaching, reducing fatigue and repetitive-motion injury. Other features include refrigerated drawers for herbs, flowers and other delicate garnishes; shallow-depth ice bins and speed rails to reduce the reach to the bar and the distance between bartender and patron; and divided ice storage to accommodate multiple sizes and types of ice—“a quantum leap forward in equipment design,” he says.

I’ve known Ellis since he was slinging at Tangerine in 2003, nearly as long as I’ve been in Las Vegas, so I can usually tell when I’m in a bar Ellis has had a hand in—because it actually works. Hopefully that, along with his signature bartender station, will become the new industry standard.


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