How to Buy Equipment for Your Commercial Kitchen
Starting a restaurant is hard, but starting a restaurant from scratch, without even inheriting the commercial appliances and tools of a previous restaurant, is even harder.
Even if you have plenty of experience in the food service industry, how are you supposed to make so many choices about vital business equipment at once — and how can you be sure you are making the right decisions for the future of your restaurant?
The answers to these questions aren’t always easy, but with enough research and deliberation, you should be able to acquire suitable appliance and tools, at least for now.
The following tips should guide you toward the right equipment, so you can take one major step to opening your restaurant.
Know What Types of Equipment You Need
Commercial kitchen gear comes in all shapes and sizes, and it is easy to overfill your kitchen with gadgets your staff doesn’t want or need.
Before you start researching equipment, you should make a list of essential tools as well as non-essential tools that could be valuable at times.
You can’t use the internet for this; the variations between different kitchens’ needs are too great and you could end up missing vital items or worse, paying too much for items you don’t need.
Instead, you should draw upon your own restauranting experience or else interview your lead chefs to compile a list.
Know the Variations Among Equipment
Not all commercial ranges are equal. In fact, within each category of kitchen equipment, there is a great deal of variety, not just in brand names but in functionality.
It’s imperative that you understand your options within each type of appliance and tool, so you can be sure you are acquiring the right options for your kitchen.
Let’s use ranges as an example because they are essential to almost every commercial kitchen.
There are two ways ranges can produce heat: electricity or gas. Additionally, gas ranges can either rely on natural gas or liquid propane, and they can use a variety of ignition systems, from pilot ignition to spark ignition to hot surface ignition.
Electric ranges also offer options in terms of how they heat up; you need to weigh the pros and cons of induction versus electronic ignition versus halogen bulbs.
You need to decide whether a restaurant-grade commercial range will suffice or whether you need a heavy-duty-grade commercial range, which is larger, hotter and more robust.
Again, you should speak with your staff, but you should also look into the hookups available in your kitchen and the pros and cons of each variable.
Know the Reputations of Equipment Brands
The companies that produce appliances and tools for home kitchens typically don’t function in the commercial sphere.
Thus, if you are new to restauranting, you will need to learn the reputations of a whole suite of new manufacturers.
Of course, there are dozens upon dozens of purveyors of kitchen equipment, each specializing in different features.
You can use the internet and the expertise of your kitchen staff to get a sense for what brands excel in which areas.
You can also walk around restaurant suppliers and equipment showrooms in your area to take advantage of the knowledge of sales staff or look into reviews of items online.
Know How the Equipment Ages
Your commercial kitchen should be the most significant initial investment in your restaurant.
Commercial equipment isn’t cheap, and you don’t want to make a similar significant expenditure in the next few years.
That’s why you need to know how the equipment will age before you buy.
All cooking equipment requires some kind of maintenance, but some brands are notorious for breaking down easier or faster than others.
It’s important that you understand the requirements of particular tools, so you can care for them appropriately from the outset.
Additionally, as you are shopping for equipment, you should begin shopping for maintenance and repair services you can trust. You might also survey your options for replacement parts.
You should know what makes and models of tools you will have in your kitchen — you want to buy Garland stove parts for Garland stoves to ensure continuing functionality, and you want to use repair services that are familiar with Garland appliances.
This will ensure a longer, more fruitful life for your kitchen equipment and lower costs for your business.
Your kitchen equipment could be the most important investment in your restaurant, so you should make these decisions only after you are well-informed.
Fortunately, there is plenty of information on tools, types, brands and services available through your staff, business contacts and the web, so you have the best opportunity to get the best commercial kitchen for you.