Chef in a restaurant kitchen cooking meat and mushrooms. Steam and vapor from the hob. Adult cook at work, wearing white uniform and black apron, focused on cooking. Concept: commercial kitchen equipment
Luis Amigo
By: luis_amigo1
Read in 11 minutes

How to Buy Cheaper and Better Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Your kitchen is the heart of your restaurant. Any restaurant owner knows that the proper commercial kitchen equipment can improve the quality of the dishes and the efficiency in the kitchen. But they also know high-quality commercial kitchen equipment comes with a hefty price-tag.

Here you’ll find tips on how and where to buy your commercial kitchen equipment. By following them you’ll save money without sacrificing quality.

But first, let’s check the items that you shouldn’t miss in a restaurant kitchen.

What Equipment Do You Need for a Commercial Kitchen?

If you are starting as a restaurateur, the logical question is “What equipment is in a restaurant kitchen?”. The type and size of your potential business, along with your menu, will determine the number of pieces of commercial kitchen equipment and their sort.

The most basic equipment (for a food truck or food stand) will include coolers, refrigerators, or freezers, a commercial oven, grills, and deep fryers, along with all the preparation utensils and proper cleaning supplies.

From there you can escalate to a wider range of commercial kitchen equipment. In the section below you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the appliances contained in a more complex restaurant kitchen.

What Are The 4 Categories of Kitchen Equipment?

In your restaurant kitchen, you may need some or all of the items listed below, that can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Equipment to receive and store food: freezer, refrigerator, cold storage walk-in units.
  2. Equipment to fabricate and prepare food: breading machines, cutters and slicers, can openers, knives, and knife sharpeners, mixers, and peelers.
  3. Equipment to prepare and process food: broilers, convection ovens, display cooking equipment, frying equipment, griddle and grills, hot plates, microwave ovens, proof cabinets, cooking ranges, revolving tray ovens, steamers, steam-jacketed kettles, steam boiler, dough makers, tilting fry pans, and salamander.
  4. Equipment to assemble, hold and serve food: beverage equipment, dispensing equipment, coffee brewers, coffee ranges, infrared warmers, juicer, shaker, and toaster.

And don’t forget the proper supplies to clean up and sanitize your kitchen and kitchenware: dishwashing equipment, disposer’s glass washers, water heating equipment, etc.

10 Tips to Buy Commercial Kitchen Equipment

1. Buy commercial-grade equipment

It’s simply a must. Working with residential kitchen equipment not only is against health codes; the equipment you may find in a residential kitchen won’t be able to sustain the workload a restaurant needs.

2. Know when to buy new

Like in any business, it’s important to know when to buy brand-new equipment and gadgets. Have in mind that some of them, like fryers or ice machines, are more vulnerable to corrosion and more prone to bacteria. Don’t take any risk and purchase them new.

3. Know when to buy used

Used commercial kitchen equipment can be a good idea. For example, gas stoves age better than electric ones. You can consider buying a used one to get great savings.

4. Consider leasing or the option of equipment financing

When you are seeking commercial kitchen equipment you have other alternatives besides buying. You can lease it (the same way you would lease a car) or even turn to equipment financing.

Leasing can be a good option if the piece of equipment you need ages quickly. That way, by the time your leasing contract is over, you are not tied up to that piece of equipment that by then may be obsolete. Also, have in mind that some leases include some kind of insurance to cover any non-technical related issue with the leased equipment.

5. Buy models less than perfect

Don’t judge a book by its cover! Your commercial kitchen equipment supplier will surely offer some pieces with dents, scratches or other minor damages due to poor packaging, transportation, or because the piece of equipment was on display. The same goes for discontinued models. These conditions don’t affect the proper performance of the equipment, and you may get great savings if you choose to dance with the ugly one.

6. Look for the NSF logo

A health code violation can be devastating for your business. That’s why you should always look for the NSF logo. This logo is given by the National Sanitation Foundation after conducting a series of tests that guarantee the commercial kitchen equipment is designed with food security in mind.

7. Buy only what you need

Don’t let the offers, discounts, and the latest trends in the food industry blind you from your purpose and your real needs. Buy your commercial kitchen equipment based on the menu of your restaurant, the needs of your chefs, and the layout and size of your kitchen.

It makes no sense buying something you won’t use and it will only take some valuable room. The right equipment should always fit your specific needs and meet the goal of improving your productivity.

8. Check the warranties

You simply cannot afford to stop the food preparation process because a piece of your equipment breaks down. In the case of, let’s say, a commercial fridge or freezer, a malfunction can cost you hundreds of dollars in food. Always check if the piece of equipment comes with a warranty (and for how long), or if you have the option to buy one. Better safe than sorry.

9. Consider energy-efficient equipment

Energy-efficient equipment can be a bit more expensive, but if you choose them, you can save hundreds of dollars in utilities in the long run.

10. Carefully plan your next commercial kitchen equipment purchase

Planning in advance will allow you to do proper research on the best providers, the best equipment pieces with better reviews and, of course, the best prices. Many times a last-minute deal or a compulsive buy is a bad idea.

Learn here How to Design and Decorate Your Restaurant.

Where to Buy Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Now that you know how to buy your commercial kitchen equipment, let’s see where you should do your shopping to get the best deals.

Besides specialized commercial kitchen equipment retailers and outlets, in your area or online, there is a wide range of options to find cheaper commercial kitchen equipment:

  1. Used restaurant equipment for sale by owner. The easiest way to find good deals for used commercial kitchen equipment in your area is by using your local Craiglist or the classified section in your local newspaper. Make sure you inspect closely the piece of equipment you intend to buy and ask the seller for how long the piece was operative and what is the reason for being for sale.
  2. Restaurants going out of business. A closing restaurant is always a good place to buy used commercial kitchen equipment at lower prices. Some restaurant owners might be willing to make a fast and direct deal to sell their remaining equipment at low prices.
  3. Auctions. You might not always be able to purchase directly from the owners. Find your local auctions, where you’ll find equipment other restaurant owners no longer need. Since the auctions provider act as a middle man, you’ll probably won’t find deals as good as in a purchase from the owner, but you will get additional services, like delivery. Before you go to an auction, check the catalog to see if the specific piece of equipment you’re looking for is going to be auctioned. Otherwise, it will be a waste of time. Even worst, you may end up buying something you don’t need.
  4. Damaged appliances sellers. Some sellers specialize in appliances with minor defects, and also big-box retailers like Costco and Best Buy usually have special sales on items that have been on display or show dents and scratches.
  5. Garage sales. Of course, you won’t find commercial kitchen equipment, but you may find some small appliances gadgets and utensils that can still be useful in your restaurant, at a fraction of the price.
  6. Non-profit resale stores. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes large retailers and chain restaurants donate kitchen equipment to companies like Goodwill. You can find gadgets and appliances at a fraction of the original price. The donor of the items will have a tax break, and you will be giving your money to those in need. It’s a win-win situation!

We hope this advice helps you the next time you buy a piece of a commercial kitchen, or if it’s time for you to update your whole kitchen. If you need some extra funds for that purchase that could make a difference in your business, consider applying for a small business loan.

At Camino Financial we know the ins and outs of the restaurant industry. Many of our happy borrowers are restaurant owners like you. With us, you can expect a streamlined process with minimal paperwork. A fast funding process (never longer than 10 days) will guarantee that you don’t miss that sale or deal on the kitchen equipment you need. Start your application process today!

Check if you
qualify for a loan

LEARN MORE