Good luck with your new restaurant! Are you opening a fancy, five-star restaurant, or a local grill? The type of eatery you want to open will determine the specifics of the equipment you need. A fancy restaurant doesn’t need to-go cups and plastic lids, while the local grill can skip the monogrammed napkins and fondue station.
According to restaurant studies, it costs an average of $450 per square foot to open a restaurant. But regardless of the size or type of restaurant you open, there is certain equipment you’re going to need.
Commercial Kitchen Appliances
A reach-in fridge is easier on the staff, but if you’ve got a big place, a walk-in cooler or walk-in freezer may be the way to go. You may also need to consider a prep fridge, which has a countertop surface. If you sell baked goods consider a refrigerated display case for customers.
Yum! Fried shrimp! Egg rolls! French fries! There are so many dishes that demand a deep fryer it would be hard to not consider one for your restaurant. An inexpensive deep fryer can run around $500 while sophisticated machines are well over five figures. Fryer prices depend on the types of fryer (gas or electric), number of vats, oil capacity and other factors.
If you’re scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes for a modest breakfast crowd, an electric countertop griddle may be enough. If not, step up to a drop-in griddle or Teppanyaki griddle, which offer a greater range of temperature options. A griddle will have a flat, solid surface perfect for eggs and pancakes. A charboiler heats grates which cook the food, like steaks, chops, and burgers.
Grill features (and prices) vary, but one you should consider is plate thickness. A thin-plate griddle may be okay for pancakes and eggs, but it will wear out quickly if you’re tossing frozen steaks onto it. Buy the thickest plate griddle your budget will allow.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to commercial ovens. Are you looking for a high-speed oven, a cook-and-hold oven, a steam oven, a conveyor oven, a deck oven, a convection oven, or even a pizza oven? Even a standard commercial oven offers a variety of features of price points. The key factors to consider are:
- What will you be baking in your oven?
- How many people are you serving?
- How quickly do you need it done?
Every restaurant needs an ice machine. (Or do they?) Ice-cold beverages are a restaurant staple so factor an ice machine into your budget.
Cutlery and Cookware
Chef knives are no place to cut corners, no pun intended. The chef is only as good as his set of knives, so buy the best you can afford.
As well as commercial appliances you’ll need cookware, like pots and pans, baking pans for cakes and pies, and tools like tongs, whisks, ladles, cutting boards, and spatulas. These “little items” add up quickly!
Food Prep Equipment
In addition to cutlery and cookware, there are several other pieces of basic equipment you may want to consider when opening a new restaurant:
- Food processor
- Prep tables
- Spice Grinder
- Salamander or Broiler
- Coffee Brewer
Don’t forget the kitchen sink! You need a place for handwashing, defrosting meat, prepping produce, and washing dishes, cookware, and utensils. Depending on the size of your kitchen, health officials may require a triple sink, as well as a separate dishwashing machine and a hand-washing station.
Additional Restaurant Needs
You’re going to need a place to store your food supplies as well as your kitchen equipment. Shelves are the perfect storage solution. You may also want to consider bussing and utility carts — use in the dining room to clean off tables or in the kitchen to move heavy items. In addition, invest in food storage containers and burp those lids! Store whatever you need, wet or dry, hot or cold. Also color-coded lids make for easy organization.
A POS System and Printer
Once upon a time, all you needed was a cash register and a booming voice to open a restaurant. (“Order up!”) But a modern POS (point of sale) system tracks all of the orders and transactions in your restaurant. Your staff can use it to punch in and out, making a POS system ideal for tracking labor costs. Wait staff will use the POS system to send orders to the kitchen staff, increasing efficiency while tracking all meals sold at your establishment.
You’re going to need printers to complete your POS system — don’t forget to stock up on fresh toner… and sell off your old printer toner!
As mentioned before, you’re going to need a three-chamber sink to properly clean and sanitize your equipment and products according to health codes. You’ll also need a grease trap — to prevent sink clogs — and a commercial faucet. You’ll also need to consider:
- Cloths and cleaning rags
- Cleaning chemicals and sanitizers
- Trash cans and recycling bins
- Mops and mop buckets
- Scrubbers and sponges
- Brooms and dustpans
- Restroom supplies
Check with your local fire department to see specifically which safety equipment is required for your restaurant. At the very least, you’ll need a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit, and domed mirror in the corners. Have employees wear non-slip shoes and keep that kitchen floor dry!
In the digital age restaurants need a little more than just physical elements. Some digital components are necessary too. Here are some additional (digital things) your new restaurant might need:
- Website (preferably with a decent online booking system)
- Up-to date and active social media profiles and listings
- Marketing, accounting, payroll and other software for day-to-day business activities.
- If you are going to run your marketing in-house you might need a camera and some design software for your promotional materials (both digital and print). Canva or one of its alternatives can be a great in-browser option here.
- Wi-Fi for your customers.
Your Kitchen, Your Adventure
Opening your own restaurant is a breathtaking adventure filled with excitement and panic (just like any business). It takes an iron will and nerves of steel, as well as a kitchen full of equipment. With careful planning and savvy shopping, you can outfit a commercial kitchen on almost any size budget!