New Vs. Used Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Selecting the Best Equipment for Your Food Business

commercial kitchen
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This is a guest article from Monica Parpal, Head Writer for www.FoodServiceWarehouse.com , the online leader in restaurant supplies and food service education. Monica has written professionally since 2008 and focuses primarily on issues pertinent to food service operators and restaurateurs.

How to Equip Your Kitchen

The question "how to start a food business" has no easy answer and food entrepreneurs have many challenges, one of which is the decision on whether to produce your own products or use the services of a copacker.

Getting your products on the shelf means you have product to sell which means you have a way to produce your food product.

If you decide on producing your own food products, your "food factory" will be closer to a commercial kitchen vs. the industrial sized versions you might have seen on you need to create a space for food production.

Commercial Kitchen Equipment—A Must in Any Commercial Kitchen

Different restaurant formats and food factories require different types of equipment.

A food service operator relies on kitchen equipment to cook everything on the menu, and if one piece fails the whole kitchen could shut down. When first starting out, or when installing a different piece of equipment, one of the biggest concerns is cost. Commercial equipment is an investment, and the biggest choice is usually whether to purchase a brand new item from a dealer or to buy a used item from an auction house or another restaurant that is closing its doors.

Although used may seem like the best restaurant equipment to purchase from a budget perspective, there are always risks involved when the equipment was not yours to begin with. Before making a decision, consider your menu, your kitchen layout, and your budget.

Always Buy Commercial-Grade Equipment

Don't buy residential equipment for your restaurant!

Whether new or used, commercial restaurant equipment is a must. In most commercial kitchens, installing a residential model in place of a true commercial piece of equipment is against local health codes. Though it may be tempting to choose residential equipment, commercial-grade food service equipment is generally easier to clean, more durable, and designed with constant, heavy use in mind.

Buy New When Possible

Buying new restaurant equipment is not an option for every foodservice operator. However, there are some instances where buying a new piece of equipment will be in your favor, potentially saving repair costs and headaches down the road. Equipment like commercial grade fryers can corrode or even leak, and old electrical components can be a detriment to cooking consistency. Commercial ice machines are another type of equipment that experts generally recommend against buying used. This is because there are just too many things that can fail or contaminate over time when it comes to ice equipment.

Buying new commercial kitchen equipment offers peace of mind and the knowledge that the unit will function appropriately for years to come, barring any real abuse. Another perk is that new commercial grade equipment usually comes with a warranty, protecting you against chance malfunctions.

Buy Used When Practical

When you have assessed your situation and feel that buying used equipment is the best choice, be sure to stick with premium brands if possible. Consult a trusted friend in the industry to guide you in selecting manufacturers that offer the most value and staying power, and try to find the newest unit possible. In general, gas cooking equipment is a safer bet than electric cooking equipment, while cooling equipment like refrigeration and ice machines are usually unreliable. Replacement parts on these items are also extremely expensive; in fact, a new ice machine compressor can exceed $1,000!

Tips for Buying Commercial Kitchen Equipment

When it comes to outfitting your restaurant with commercial kitchen equipment here is a handy checklist to make the task easier for outfitting your restaurant kitchen.

  • Buying new is usually a smart alternative to buying used. The equipment will almost certainly have a longer life in your restaurant, with fewer problems and repairs.
  • New Equipment Purchase Tips. New Equipment's biggest drawback is price. However, there are ways around this that most restaurant equipment suppliers can work with you on this. Some examples:
  • Lease-to-own programs - Lease To Own allows you to purchase at the end of the lease term for a small amount of money. Commercial equipment has a usable life far beyond a lease term
  • Go Scratch-And-Dent - Scratch and Dent models have minor imperfections that do not affect the performance of the equipment and are often available.

As you look to install or upgrade your commercial kitchen equipment, keep in mind that an investment in restaurant equipment is an investment in your restaurant's success.