Pros and Cons of Buying Used Restaurant Equipment


One of the biggest expenses of opening a new restaurant is buying the equipment. A $100,000 loan might seem like a lot of money when you are first getting ready to open, but too quickly it can run out. Stoves, ranges, grills and coolers all represent thousands of dollars spent. In addition, much like a new car, these items depreciate the minute they leave the showroom. Selecting gently worn second-hand equipment can save you a lot of precious start-up money.

However, used restaurant equipment does present a few liabilities. Read on for the pros and cons of buying used.


Pros of Buying Used Restaurant Equipment

  • Moolah. New restaurant equipment comes with shiny, expensive retail price tag. Buying used equipment will save you precious start-up cash that you can put toward your first food order, payroll, insurances, or marketing campaign.
  • Minimal Wear & Tear. Due to the high failure of new restaurants (not yours, of course) many second-hand pieces of equipment have only been in service for a year or two. If you go to a restaurant auction, do your homework and find out how long the place was open. Examine the appliances, looking for telltale signs of wear and tear like rust, missing parts, etc. If you are really lucky, you can still get the warranty with a piece that is not too old.
  • Prices Aren't Set in Stone. Dealers of used restaurant equipment are often open to price negotiations. If you are good at haggling then don’t be afraid to counter their offer.
  • Freebies. If you are buying several pieces of used equipment from the same vendor, ask for a freebie, such as prep table, a mixer or toaster. They may throw it in as a sign of goodwill.


Cons of Buying Used Restaurant Equipment

  • Warranties, or lack thereof. Used restaurant equipment is usually sold “as is.” Meaning, if you hook it up at the restaurant and it doesn’t work, you’re out of luck. This is the gamble you take when buying used. The good news is that many pieces of restaurant equipment are nearly indestructible. If one small part goes, it is easy to replace.
  • Spending more money. If you do buy used equipment that breaks, then you may end up spending more money than if you had just bought it new. However, certain items are better suited to buy used, and have a better chance of working properly for a long time to come.

The following items are all good candidates for buying used:

  • Gas Ranges and Ovens – Gas ranges have a pretty long life span as far as restaurant equipment goes. If it is missing some knobs don’t fret, they are easily replaced. Electric models are not well suited for restaurants, because of the long time they take to heat up, and they have lots of bits and pieces just waiting to break.
  • Fryers- Ditto for fryers. Gas is better than electric. You just want to make sure the fryer is calibrated and get the instructions on how to change the oil.
  • Tableware- Salt and pepper shakers, centerpiece vases, dishes, glasses and such can all be purchased second hand with confidence. The only problem you will face is finding pieces that fit with your restaurant décor.

Items like ice machines, coffee makers and dishwashers can also be leased through vendors. Read more about leasing restaurant equipment