All restaurants and other commercial food service establishments must comply with local, state and federal health and safety codes involving food. The Model Food Code guidelines created by the Food and Drug Administration are in place to protect the public from food-borne illnesses. The direct authority for restaurants is the county health department. Each county health department retains specific regulations for all areas of a restaurant, including requirements for a restaurant bar sink.


Before a new restaurant can open, it must pass a health inspection, so it's important to be aware of all local health and safety codes to ensure you can open for business. Typically, once a restaurant is open they are inspected twice a year. If a number of code violations are discovered, a restaurant may be shut down until corrections are made, at which time the facility can be re-inspected. Though the rules vary by county and state, many county health departments have precise standards for the construction and materials used in restaurant bar sinks. Some counties may require that sink equipment be certified by the National Sanitation Foundation.

Sink Materials

Sinks must be constructed of durable, non-absorbent, corrosion-resistant materials that must be heavy and thick enough to withstand repeated ware washing. The sink must have a smooth, easily cleanable surface and be resistant to chipping, scratching, pitting, scoring, crazing (surface cracking), distortion and decomposition. Sinks and drain boards of a restaurant bar sink must be self-draining or sloped to prevent pooling of liquid.


According to the Model Food Code, a sink with a minimum of three compartments must be installed for manual washing of equipment and utensils. It is specified that one compartment will be for manual washing, one compartment for rinsing and the third for sanitizing. The compartments must be large enough to accommodate the largest of equipment and utensils. A two-compartment sink may be used with prior approval and with the implementation of specific cleaning and sanitizing steps. A two-compartment sink may not be used for an ongoing ware washing process.


Installation requirements for a restaurant bar sink call for adequate space to be left to allow for cleaning access along the sides, above and behind the sink. As sinks may be subject to spillage or seepage, they must be sealed to adjoining walls or equipment. A floor-mounted sink must be either sealed to the floor or elevated on legs to a minimum height of 6 inches above the floor.


A sink used for ware washing may not be used for hand washing. The sink must be cleaned before and after each use in accordance with sub-section 4-501.14 of the Food Code. The temperature of the cleaning solution when washing the sink must be maintained at no less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit or the temperature indicated on the manufacturer’s label of the cleaning agent. More specifics about installation of bar sinks, as well as temperature and cleaning requirements can be found on the FDA’s website.

Additional Requirements


washing hands image by JASON WINTER from

Sinks reserved for hand washing only must be provided in the bar area for employee use. Some counties may require that hand washing sinks be constructed with non-hand-operated controls, hand soap dispensers, hot and cold water and single-use towels. Larger bar areas may require multiple hand washing sinks. Hand sinks typically must be wall-mounted at least 18 inches away from utensil storage or food preparation surfaces; otherwise, splash guards must be utilized. Restaurant bars may also be required to have “dump” sinks reserved for the disposal of leftover liquid from glasses. Your local county health department can supply the specific requirements for a restaurant bar sink in your county.