Opening a restaurant is a big deal. Not only will you enliven the community with your unique culinary fare, you will also become a distinguished figure in the local business landscape.
The National Restaurant Association’s 2017 State of the Industry report projected sales of nearly $800 billion and as more new restaurants enter the market, competition for dining dollars will increase.
In addition to a great business plan and a signature twist on your culinary creations, the quality of a restaurant’s operation and equipment determines just how much market share a new restaurant might earn. Read this simple-to-follow restaurant equipment guide to identify your equipment needs and maximize your chances of success.
Energy Efficiency: Restaurants Move Toward Sustainability
According to recent research, sustainable restaurants are on the rise. Between the installation of energy-saving light fixtures, the use of programmable thermostats, and a commitment to reducing food waste, restaurant owners across the country have become increasingly dedicated to sustainable business practices.
As a powerful motivator for restaurateurs, nearly half of customers consider a restaurant’s sustainability practices before choosing where to dine. As you browse our restaurant equipment checklist, consider selecting energy-efficient appliances and commercial kitchen equipment where possible.
Commercial Refrigerator & Freezer
Even if you plan to serve mostly fresh, local fare, you’ll need a place to store ingredients at a safe temperature. FSR Magazine reports refrigeration and freezer systems are among the most costly — and most often financed — pieces of restaurant equipment for new business owners. Because keeping inventory fresh requires consistent, safe temperatures, there really is little room to skimp on this item.
Walk-in refrigerators and freezers will take up the largest portion of your refrigeration budget, but you may also need reach-in freezers or refrigerators that are accessible to line cooks and servers. Check out this helpful buying guide to browse your options.
Shelving & Dry Storage
Although there is no additional heating or cooling component to dry storage, there are concerns you must consider before setting it up. Will you need shelves with locking wheels? Are you serving wine or beer that should be stored in caged shelving units to prevent spills and product damage? What smaller storage and shelving units are needed near the line for quick access? Where will clean plates, bowls, cups, glasses, and silverware be stored?
As a new restaurateur, you can save yourself some money by purchasing used shelving from outlet stores or restaurants going out of business rather than buying new units. However, you should still review your options so that you have a better idea of what you need.
Smallware & Linens
Most new restaurant owners become overwhelmed with the expense of large appliances and forget that little items can add up, too. Kitchen supplies like sauté pans, bakeware, cutlery, and hand tools are essential to the successful operation of a restaurant business. Must-have items on your smallware list will vary depending on your restaurant’s theme and culinary offerings, but you can typically count on needing the following items:
- Stock and sauce pots with lids
- Sauté and frying pans
- Sheet and roasting pans
- Chef knife sets
- Hand tools, including tongs, whisks, spatulas, ladles, and spoons
- Cake or pie pans
In addition to smallware, you need to supply linens. Your line staff will need towels and rags to prevent injuries from handling hot equipment and to quickly dispose of food waste prior to, during, and after cooking. A distinctly separate set of linens is needed to sanitize the back of the house and quickly clean up spills to prevent falls.
SEE ALSO: How to Manage a Restaurant Business
Hand-washing Stations & Dishwashers
A requirement for safe food handling, accessible hand-washing stations are a must-have in your restaurant. Additionally, you need utility sinks, ware-washing stations, and commercial dishwashers installed near the kitchen area (and possibly more in the front of house, depending on your restaurant’s layout). Keep in mind that you need sinks for different purposes, including mop water, hand-washing, and ware-washing to prevent cross-contamination.
Commercial dishwashers are available in standalone, under-counter, door-type, and conveyor-type models, and the size and power of your restaurant’s dishwasher will depend on your establishment’s projected capacity.
Some new restaurant owners may get by with disposable plates or easy-to-clean trays in the beginning if their theme and food type allows. However, while this may work well for a barbecue joint, it may not be acceptable in a fine dining establishment. Explore your commercial dishwasher options to determine the best size for your restaurant.
Grill, Griddle, Oven & Fryer
The line is where your flavors meld and the culinary creatives on your staff do their best work. When it comes to ovens, grills, griddles, and fryers, you can’t sacrifice quality. After all, your guests are the recipients of this kitchen equipment’s end product, and you want to make a great impression to encourage return visits.
Before you choose your kitchen equipment, consider your planned menu. How much of it is fried? Are you producing baked goods in-house, or will you source them from a vendor? If your menu consists of fusion items, do you need any non-traditional cookware, such as woks or steamers? If you offer an impressive dessert menu, does a separate confection area of your kitchen require special cooking equipment? The answers to these questions help inform your cooking equipment choices.
Restaurant POS System
Now that you have small and large pieces of restaurant equipment accounted for, you need a seamless way to communicate orders from the front of house to the back of house. This is where adopting a rapid, reliable restaurant Point of Sale (POS) system.
Your point of sale system should be designed in a way that helps you speed through transactions and guest orders. Depending on the type of food service you provide, you’ll want to opt for a point of sale solution that empowers you to customize table layouts, manage reservations, print kitchen orders, keep customer tabs open, and split checks.
On the back end, you also want to make sure the system provides you with robust analytics and reporting so that you can easily identify changes that need be made in terms of staffing or inventory.
Purchasing commercial kitchen equipment isn’t the last step on your pre-launch checklist, but once you’ve taken care of this, you can start focusing on the front of the house. Now that you understand some of the basic equipment needs for a foodservice business, you’re ready to set your restaurant business up for success with the help of this restaurant equipment list.