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A Complete 2024 Guide to Restaurant Equipment

Shopping for equipment for a new restaurant is like furnishing a new house: it requires careful selection so that everything fits in correctly. Undoubtedly one of the most important practices every restaurant owner must consider, learn what to do first before you buy in our complete list, providing you with all the essentials.

Considering starting up a new restaurant this year? Consider everything in our ultimate guide to starting up a restaurant ensuring you’re all ready, including all the nooks and crannies like legal requirements, location, upkeep costs, cost of goods, and much more.

What Restaurant Equipment is Needed — A Checklist

To no-one’s surprise, a typical restaurant equipment checklist is big. However, since every restaurant has its own unique and individual needs, this list is not comprehensive, and instead contains the most important and essential items every new restaurant must consider.

Kitchens

  • Ovens
  • Range cookers
  • Ventilation units
  • Preparation counters, including cutting boards
  • Mixers
  • Slicers
  • Refrigeration and freezer units 
  • Storage space (shelving, counters)
  • Safety equipment such as first-aid boxes and fire blankets
  • Sinks and washing appliances
  • Microwave
  • Grills

Dining

Technology

  • Payment and point-of-sale (POS) software
  • Receipt printers
  • Lighting 
  • Wi-fi
  • Hardware, i.e. desktop computer

Miscellaneous

  • Coffee machine
  • Ice machine 
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Business cards
“Handy pots and pans” via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

How Much is Commercial Kitchen Equipment?

Suffice to say, estimates vary. Price comparison sites usually build up a general price picture based on building the kitchen itself per square foot. Say a restaurant pays £190 per square foot. Then a 1,000 square foot space cost £190,000.

Equipment costs will make up about £60,000—80,000 of these prices. 

When considering equipment costs, restaurants also have to think about upkeep and electricity figures. Running costs mean that restaurants have to account for energy prices — for example keeping on appliances overnight heightens commercial kitchen cost, and simply turning them off can reduce energy bills by £6,000. Accounting for the total ins-and-outs of these outgoings will give restaurants a better picture of the total cost of equipment.

What Equipment is Needed for a Small Restaurant?

Necessary equipment depends on what your restaurant necessarily plans to serve. For example, a delicatessen will not need the same equipment that a small city restaurant requires. Let’s look at the essentials.

Kitchen

1. Oven

A well-engineered oven is a kitchen essential, allowing staff to cook with confidence. They’re versatile items too. Ovens can be used in a variety of kitchens, big and small, accommodating for various cooking styles. So it’s important to get them right. Consider:

  • Size. Restaurants must calculate space for an oven, taking into consideration serving capacity and the food types they plan to cook.
  • Function. Both electric and gas ovens serve different purposes, determining cooking speeds and alacrity. Pick the right oven that works for you.
  • Type. Importantly, separate ovens cater for separate styles. A commercial oven caters for most styles, while a combination oven provides for various cooking styles (i.e., steam, grill). For specialised restaurants, such as a pizza parlour, specific ovens provide for specific meal types.

2. Range

The right range will make cooking a variety of meals an absolute breeze. Temperature control, eco-credentials, and efficiency are all criteria to consider when going for either gas or electric.

  • Gas ranges immediately produce a desired heat but are more difficult to clean.
  • Electric ranges are easier to clean and provide a more even cooking service. However, in terms of eco-efficiency, they cost more to run, amplifying the electric bill.

3. Ventilation Units

Ventilation is vital, and a good system makes your kitchen more comfortable to work in.

  • Volume flow. A ventilation duct uses pressure to move air. Air volume flow rate determines the ventilation power in your kitchen — for example, cooking with open flames will require a higher rate.
  • Energy efficiency. Wasting energy will cost more; so restaurants must consider a fan’s horsepower against actual need.
  • Environmental factors. Both the size and actual noise of a ventilation system (measured in sones) are key considerations that have an effect on the overall day-to-day operations of your kitchen.

4. Preparation Counters

First, whatever you do, it is advisable to go with stainless steel food surfaces. Durable and hygienic (stainless steel doesn’t absorb bacteria), this is the ideal material for prep tables, counters, and cutting surfaces — not to mention how easy they are to clean.

Plastic is the next great material for chopping boards. A colour-coded system keeps prep materials separate, ensuring no cross-contamination occurs.

5. Mixers, Slicers, Processors

Food processors, including mixers and slicers, save both time and energy doing chef activities such as chopping, mixing, and blending ingredients. Investing in a good quality all-in-one is a good idea because they produce even and consistent results. 

Plus, the type a restaurant invests in depends on their produce. For bakeries, say, a good processor that can make desserts and pastries can significantly reduce preparation time.

6. Refrigeration

Buying a good refrigerator and freezer requires thorough research. These are some of the most expensive purchases you’ll make for your restaurant. With a plethora of options to choose from, restaurants first need to consider:

  • Size and capacity, accounting the best option available for staff. A walk-in cooler, for example, is great for staff convenience.
  • Condenser type, to regulate temperature, either going on top of a refrigeration unit or on the bottom

Since the world of fridge-freezers is often difficult to navigate, restaurants can consult specialist white goods firm to aid them in their choice, providing the most useful information on energy efficiency and cost effectiveness.

7. Storage

To help your kitchen keep clutter-free, restaurant owners need good, tried-and-tested storage solutions. This includes shelving and storage for food types. 

A kitchen layout will take in mobility options (e.g. retractable shelving) and materials for storage units, ranging from chrome-wire to plastic, which depends entirely on individual preferences and criteria.

8. Safety Equipment

Health and safety restaurant equipment is a vital necessity. Make sure to read up on health and safety licencing laws, which include staff training methods and appropriate routes in the event of an emergency (i.e. a fire exit strategy with assembly point). Every restaurant needs these to legally operate, including the following equipment:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • First-aid kits
  • Floor mats
  • Aprons
  • Oven mitts
  • Hair coverings, including hair nets, chef hats, and/or caps
  • Wet floor signage
  • Protective eyewear

9. Cooking Essentials

Kitting out your kitchen collection will ultimately shape how your staff cook. For successful everyday cooking, restaurants need to consider what sort of equipment staff will use on a daily basis during shifts. In case you forget, essential cooking equipment includes:

  • Pots and pans
  • Mixing spoons
  • Good-quality chopping knives
  • Knife sharpeners (whetstones, wheel sharpeners)
  • Spatulas, ladles, tongs
  • Roasting/baking pans
  • Whisks and mixing bowls
  • Towels

10. Sinks

Every kitchen needs reliable sinks and drainage. When deciding which sinks to buy and place in your kitchen, think about the quantity of water your staff will need. The type of sink will depend entirely on the type of hospitality venue.

  • Bars use lower compartment sinks for emptying drinks, cleaning, and drink preparation.
  • Kitchens use compartment sinks for rinsing vegetables and other food preparation activities and techniques. They use food disposal units and dishwasher appliances for mass cleaning of cutlery and equipment.
”Commonwealth” by Lou Stejskal via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Used Versus New

The debate is endless and entirely dependent on an individual budget. If you’re struggling to decide, here are some pros and cons of either option. 

  • New isn’t always the best option, for some items are food deals when purchased used. Of course a new item with a warranty has obvious advantages — but costly. Items that have long life spans such as a gas range are definite considerations for being bought used; especially since they’re very expensive when bought new.
  • Used items may appear more cost effective but offer less peace of mind. If used, equipment breaks down, you’ll need to replace it quickly. Thankfully, for items with short life spans, equipment leasing is an available option. For items like dishwashers, leasing them out offers the dual benefit of both saving money and saving time in the event of a breakdown.

How Much is Used Restaurant Equipment Worth?

Age and condition are usually the defining factors determining the total worth of equipment. Businesses sell used restaurant supplies and equipment up between 10 and 40 per cent of their current market value — particularly when previous restaurants liquidate and have no option but to auction their wares. 

Who Sells Used Restaurant Equipment?

The short answer: anyone willing to get rid of it. There are multiple dedicated shops that sell used equipment, but another great source is auction houses and online auctioneers. 

  • Contact equipment suppliers in your area to learn about market rates
  • Glance quickly over resale websites (eBay, social media groups) to find listings for restaurant equipment, offering a general idea on asking prices
  • Search “restaurant equipment appraisal” to receive accurate valuations on what you’re exactly looking for. Specific details such as model numbers and condition will give accurate market prices

Just Right — Saving Money on Restaurant Tech Equipment

Restaurant tech will provide much needed help in the everyday operations of a hospitality business. Did you know you have to typically pay for this too?

Not anymore. Thankfully, when it comes to guest management services, there is a free option available.

Searching for what equipment a restaurant needs to operate? Reap the rewards of a free hospitality guest management app and make a head start when starting up your own restaurant for business. You can even set up the app for your team in less than five minutes. Don’t believe us? Talk to the Carbonara App team today to learn how it all works.