Buying Restaurant Equipment


What do you need?  New vs Used…

As every concept is different, so are the needs for equipment and small-wares. If you are buying an existing restaurant, most of the equipment and small-wares will likely go with the sale, but chances are you will still need to purchase some items that meet your specific requirements. 


Your new kitchen will most likely require:  

A walk-in cooler with air compressor and fans commercial freezer(s) either stand up, chest freezer or both chargrille or broiler commercial oven(s), convection oven 8 or 10 burner stove fryolator(s) steam table mixer various refrigerators and/or sandwich units commercial dishwasher pot sink washing sinks at each station (required by health departments and all with “back flow preventors”) stainless shelving a variety of stainless work/prep tables pick up station with heat-lamps ventilation hoods fire suppression system  and the list goes on and on… Bar Equipment:

If you have a large busy bar, you may require:

a separate walk-in cooler for kegs, beer cases and chilled wines chest cooler(s) for bottled beers and juices, etc.. draft beer glycol tap system (installed by beer distributors) cappuccino and/or coffee maker Jagermeister chiller (provided by liquor distributor) portable bar glass scrubber bar sink(s)  ice bin(s) with “back flow preventors” overhead and shelved glass racks, etc. Remember if you carry energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster or other, ask your vendor to supply you with a free stand-up fridge)

NOTE: Outfitting a kitchen and bar can cost $100,000 or much more if you purchase New rather than used equipment.


Your kitchen will also require:

numerous cook pots sauté pans of various sizes pasta cook pot with inserts hotel pans sheet pans rolling racks and cart baking tins large assortment of cutting knives ladles spoons tongs spatulas thermometers and temperature gauges food processor (s) rice cooker(s) ramekins storage containers cooling paddles water pitchers salt & pepper shakers pepper-mills plastic squeeze bottles cake decorating tubes condiment racks portable heat lamp(s) order ticket wheel(s) fire extinguishers etc..


Oven mitts mop bucket/mops brooms dust pans vacuum cleaner dusters rubber gloves tin foil plastic wrap parchment paper sponges and scrubbies oven cleaner grease cutter dishwasher chemicals butane lighter sticks assortment of take-out containers POS system printer ribbons printer paper napkins toothpicks mints lollipops or kid’s prizes, etc…


Mixing glasses and shakers bar spoons strainers shot glasses straws stir sticks coasters rubber floor mats salt, wine keys bottle pour spouts chlorine sanitizing tablets sink stoppers ice scoops bottle openers ice buckets wine chillers, etc..


Your dining room will need:

assorted plates for each course water glasses coffee cups silverware, etc…   The kitchen will need:

its own serving plates soup bowls salad plates pizza pans parfait glasses ramekins etc….

NOTE: Different concepts require different grades and qualities of plates and silverware. For instance, a high-end 5-star establishment will need the most expensive china, plates and glassware and use heavy weight silver service-ware, while a diner or fast-casual place will require far lower quality and less expensive plates, glasses and utensils. 

Word to the Wise: Unfortunately, breakage, loss and theft is an expensive cost of doing business. You will break many plates, glasses and service-ware in daily operations and silver utensils have a high tendency to end up in the trash at your bus and dish-stations and end up in your employee’s apartments for personal use. I found this out the hard way when I opened my first place and hundreds of dollars of silver went missing in the first few weeks.

The bar needs:

an extensive selection of pint glasses cocktail glasses martini glasses rocks glasses margarita glasses wine glasses shot glasses etc..

Equipment Suppliers/ Used Equipment:

Unfortunately, restaurants go in and out of business every day. The upside is there are many equipment dealers that re-condition and warranty good used equipment at reasonable prices (far less than new) and it is easy to find most anything you are looking for.  

If you live near a larger city or population area, there are possibly two or more competing equipment dealers, so as always, it pays to travel a distance, shop around and negotiate before buying the first thing you see. Most used equipment dealers also sell New items from most of the major brands.

Restaurant/ Equipment Auctions:

Again if you live near a reasonably large area, keep your eye out usually in the newspaper for announcements of restaurant auctions.  

Here, equipment gets auctioned off to the highest bidder and usually for pennies on the dollar. Sometimes, there are few bidders in attendance and you have a solid chance of scoring the pieces you need. All equipment can be previewed and inspected prior to bidding, get there early.

Rental Businesses:

Large population centers usually have one or more Rental Services businesses that routinely sell used equipment that is still in usable and serviceable condition, although selection is limited to portable items such as rolling barbecue grills, smokers, etc..

Line Design:

Every kitchen line and work station will be different and its impossible to lay out a standard kitchen design that will work for all concepts. You will possibly have many if not all of the following: a prep station, grill line, sandwich station, fryer station, steam table, soup station, sauté/ oven station, pizza line, etc.. and all of these various lines and work stations need to be in sync with each other to optimize efficient service. All I can advise is to set up each station for efficiency, communication and most importantly the flow of how your order process will work.  

Word to the Wise: My former high-volume restaurant had three different cooking lines (physically limited by our space) that were in-efficient for communication and flow.  

The prep kitchen was our main kitchen, separated from our grill and expedite line by a load bearing wall. We had a busy pizza oven around the corner from our main grill line… 

Communication and timing of multiple orders simultaneously from different lines was an on-going challenge and hassle for my cook staff.  

We got the job done but they call it a “Line” for a reason… ours was more of an obstacle course.. Its best to consult an expert such as your equipment supplier plus the input of your chef and kitchen manager before setting up your line.

NOTE: Make sure that all gas connections are on flexible safety supply lines to avoid potential dangerous hazards.

Many kitchen appliances still have old copper tubing which can easily kink as equipment is moved for cleaning, etc… 

Barrier shields should also be attached to your fryer station if it is placed next to a grille or broiler to prevent sparks from igniting your cooking oil.