Restaurant Equipment Basics

Everything You Need to Know About Restaurant Equipment

By Lorri Mealey

One area that can feel overwhelming when opening a new restaurant is the equipment. The prices of new restaurant equipment are staggering, especially if you are new to the business. If you are outfitting a brand new restaurant, you will need everything from a commercial oven range to industrial grade dining tables and chair, to dishes, flatware and everything in-between. The bulk of financing a new restaurant comes from stocking it. Below is a breakdown of the different areas of stocking a restaurant, and tips for saving money, either up front or over the lifetime of your restaurant.

Basics of Outfitting a Commercial Kitchen

The first rule of opening a new restaurant, new is not always better. New restaurant equipment is shiny and pretty, but not a necessity. You can buy purchase quality used good quality restaurant equipment for pennies on the dollar. Expensive items, like ovens, grills, and refrigeration units are also good candidates for buying second-hand. There are some pieces of restaurant equipment that are better off buying new. Leasing equipment is another option that can save money as you get ready to open a new restaurant. Equipment with short life spans, like ice machines, are perfect for a monthly lease. Vendors also offer leased equipment, like coffee makers and coolers, for free, so long as you buy their products. Find out more about what to buy new and what to buy used or lease for your restaurant.

A restaurant kitchen requires a wide array of equipment, often in a small, cramped or otherwise awkward space. Therefore, restaurant kitchen requires careful planning, to maximize space and promote efficiency. A typical restaurant kitchen is composed of different stations and restaurant equipment. A station is the area where a certain type of food is prepared. Stations help keep a restaurant kitchen running smoothly. An integral part of restaurant equipment in the kitchen is the refrigeration systems. Restaurant refrigeration ranges from small coolers (like a dorm fridge) to massive walk-in refrigerators and freezers, and everything in between.

Your Restaurant Dining Room Should be Flexible

Like the kitchen, you can save a lot of money by outfitting your restaurant dining room in second-hand equipment. Tables and chairs represent a big expense when opening a new restaurant. The reason they are so expensive, is that they are made to withstand the rigors of daily use in a busy restaurant. The same is true of restaurant dishes, which are not the same as your kitchen dishes. Restaurant dishes aren’t cheap, compared to those you can buy at Wal-Mart or K-Mart, but like commercial grade tables and chairs, they are made to withstand the rigors of a commercial kitchen dishwasher. Smaller items like salt and pepper shakes, bread baskets, and flatware are all ideal to purchases used. 

Don’t Overlook the Restaurant Bar

The set-up of a restaurant bar depends on your restaurant’s size, theme and liquor license. Some bars are service only, meaning it does not serve customers directly; it is just for staff to order drinks. Much of the equipment for a restaurant bar is small, like mixers, shakers, glasses, and such. The big ticket items like beerlines, coolers, and tap head are where you will spend the most money. Many items for your bar you can get for free from distributors, like pint glasses, coasters and napkin holders.

Keep Catering Equipment Handy

Both on and off-premise catering offers restaurants a chance to expand business beyond their dining room. Just like running a restaurant, catering outside of a restaurant requires a lot of attention to detail and organization, as well as select pieces of equipment. While your restaurant may have much of the equipment needed for catering, like plates, glasses and flatware, there are certain pieces of commercial equipment needed to serve food safety and efficiently at catered events.

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