If there’s one place people are used to rubbing elbows with other patrons, it’s at the bar. So when you are planning space for that area, you might want to use different criteria than you apply to dining room layouts.
Placing restaurant barstools–whether with or without arms–in close proximity to each other is not a no-no. You wouldn’t do this in a dining area, but bars lend themselves to a different type of camaraderie. Strangers may talk with their neighbors at a bar, whereas, as at a dining table, they may not even make eye contact. So when you measure your space allotment for barstools, this may be the place to add in a couple of extra. Of course, you must leave space to get on and off a stool–since this requires different maneuvering than does a chair.
If you want to encourage folks to stay a while, look for stools with backs and arms, as these definitely lend extra comfort. And a padded upholstered seat can’t hurt either! Swivel seats are fun, especially in people-meeting places.