List of Equipment Needed to Start a Restaurant

Restaurant

Carpenters have a saying: “Measure twice, cut once.” For restaurateurs, it’s not as simple as using a measuring tape, but getting the right equipment for your restaurant business starts with carefully deciding what your needs are. This is a crucial step in your launch. If you sink too much money into equipment at startup, you may not have enough left to stay in business until you turn a profit. On the other hand, underestimating your needs can hamper your growth and lead to costly renovations a few years down the road.

Be Guided by Your Menu Concept

Your menu and your concept for the restaurant will drive your purchase decisions. How many dishes do you plan to offer? What equipment will you need to create that menu and serve it in volume? How many seats do you need, and how often will you have to turn them in order to pay the bills? What market are you targeting? The answers to those questions determine how much equipment and what kind of equipment you’ll need.

You’ll Almost Always Have to Compromise

As the Rolling Stones observed, “You can’t always get what you want.” Reality will inevitably force some compromises between the kitchen you want and the kitchen you can actually have. Local building and fire codes play a role in that discussion, and so do the physical constraints, such as the size and layout – especially in older buildings – of your space. Most importantly, your budget will force you to make hard choices. Your final restaurant equipment list will reflect those choices and more.

Equipment for Your Restaurant Business

You can think of your equipment as being divided between the kitchen, or “back of the house,” and the dining room, or “front of the house.” Everything involved in the production of your food can be considered the back of the house, and everything required for service can be considered the front of the house. Both are vital, and they’ll need separate lists of equipment.

Standard Restaurant Kitchen Equipment

Your actual production equipment depends on the type of food you plan to serve and how much of it. If you don’t serve breakfast, for example, you might not need a flat-top griddle. On the other hand, if your business plan calls for serving 200 breakfasts each hour, then you might need two. The same logic applies to ovens, fryers and other equipment. Most restaurants use some combination of the same basic equipment, though, so you can customize this list to fit your own needs.

Dry Storage: You’ll need shelves and racks for dry goods and canned goods, pots and pans, takeout packaging and supplies such as paper towels and bathroom tissue. You’ll also need a separate area where you can store cleaning and sanitizing supplies away from anything food-related.

Refrigeration: This includes everything from walk-in coolers and freezers to freestanding refrigerators and smaller undercounter units in your prep kitchen and main kitchen. Your needs are dictated largely by the volume of food you prepare. If you order weekly, for example, you should have enough refrigeration to hold a week’s worth of supplies. On the line, you’ll need enough to keep each station reasonably supplied during busy periods.

Prep Surfaces and Equipment: Ideally, you’ll have a separate area for food prep away from your main production area, with its own work surfaces and refrigeration. Equipment in this area might include:

  • Food processors
  • Blenders and immersion blenders
  • Chopping and slicing machines
  • Mixers, either countertop or floor standing
  • Knife holders
  • Knives and cutting boards, ideally color coded for use with different ingredients
  • Racks, carts and storage containers to organize and move ingredients and prepared foods

Cooking Surfaces and Equipment: Your main working kitchen is where most of the cooking and baking will happen, so this is where most of your heavy equipment is located. This will usually include some combination of:

  • Flat-top griddles
  • Gas ranges
  • Induction cooktops
  • Broilers or “salamanders,” often installed over a range
  • Deep fryers
  • Convection ovens or deck ovens
  • Microwave ovens
  • Hoods and venting for your major appliances, as specified in your local code
  • Toasters, sandwich presses, waffle irons and other specialized small appliances as needed

Dishwashing Area: Don’t economize in your “dish pit,” because turning over utensils, pans and serviceware in a hurry can be the difference between a smooth day’s service and several frantic, stressful hours in the weeds. Buy a dishwasher big enough to handle the volume of wares you’ll generate during service, and provide enough space in the form of counters or racks for both clean and dirty items to be stacked and organized. A full three-sink system for hand washing large items and perhaps a dedicated separate machine for glassware are also nice to have. The faster you can wash your dishes, the fewer you’ll need to buy, so money spent here can be partially recaptured in the front of the house.

Cleaning, Sanitation and Safety Equipment: This includes your hand-washing stations, the dispensers you’ll use for your cleaning chemicals, the spray bottles you’ll need for sanitizer, your non skid floor mats, your fire extinguishers and everything else necessary to maintain a safe and sanitary workspace.

Cookware, Bakeware and Smallware: These aren’t as eye catching as the big items, but they’re just as important. They include all the pans and baking sheets you’ll need for your menu as well as the pots, skillets, tongs, turners, spatulas, peelers and other utensils your cooks will need. Don’t forget thermometers to test your foods and refrigeration units as needed to maintain food safety.

Standard Restaurant Dining Room Equipment

In the front of the house, it’s sometimes hard to draw a line between what’s decor and what’s equipment, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll focus on those things that are primarily functional.

Bar Equipment: If your establishment has a bar, it’ll need its own share of equipment. This includes a hand-washing station, refrigeration for beer, wine and mixers, beverage dispensers and storage for their tanks, a glassware storage area and room for the bartenders to prepare and refrigerate their various ingredients and garnishes. If you can manage to give the bar its own dishwasher for glassware, that’s a serious bonus.

Refrigeration: You’ll need a cooler or two for condiments, pre-plated desserts, nonalcoholic beverages, prepared salads and anything else servers can deliver to the table without needing the kitchen’s help. In a self-serve environment, you might also use refrigerated merchandising displays to drive sales and display your products.

Coffee and Tea Equipment: This depends on your clientele and your style of service, but it might include anything from a commercial grade, single-serving coffee pod system to plumbed-in drip coffee makers to an elaborate espresso-making setup. Most machines come with a tap for hot water, which you’ll use to make tea. If you aren’t preparing coffee and tea to order, you might also need thermal pots to keep them warm for service.

Self-Service Food Equipment: In a buffet or self-serve setting, you might need additional microwaves, heated displays, steam tables or a refrigerated salad bar for your customers to use. These will also need plenty of servicewares such as tongs, ladles, spoons and either takeout containers or plates and bowls. Self-service fountain beverage dispensers, napkin and straw dispensers and condiment dispensers fit this category as well.

Table Settings: This includes everything your guests will use to eat their meals, including the dishes, coffee cups, silverware, glasses for water, wine and beer and so on. You should think of these as “semi-consumables.” They’re a permanent purchase, but you will have plates dropped, glasses shattered and cutlery accidentally scraped into the garbage with your food waste.

Sound System: In almost every scenario, you’ll want a way to provide music to your dining room. That might be a streaming service, a curated playlist or just a handful of your favorite CDs from home, but in any case, you’ll need a playback device and some speakers. You’ll also usually need to pay a licensing fee, which isn’t equipment as such, but it is a cost for which you have to account.

Communications/Sales Aids: In most settings, you’ll use a few visual aids to help you communicate to the diner your menu, your specials or your vision. These can be as simple as a chalkboard or as deluxe as an interactive kiosk or a professionally prepared video playing on multiple screens. The laminated “table talkers” that many chains use to promote their specials are easy to replicate, even for a small operator on a tight budget.

Your Administrative and Management Equipment

In the modern world, equipment for a restaurant business doesn’t begin with frying pans and end with plates. You’ll also need a computer system to help you run your establishment and at least a modestly equipped office where you can do that. A desk, a filing cabinet and a printer or copier would be the functional minimum.

You’ll also need at least a basic accounting or bookkeeping program and some form of point of sale system, whether it is a sophisticated touchscreen system or a cash box under the counter. You can also purchase programs to manage your staffing and inventory, recipe management and customer relationships. You can even customize an off-the-shelf smartphone app to drive customer engagement.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

This isn’t a comprehensive list, and no one list will fit every restaurant’s needs anyway. For more comprehensive checklists or for guidance in deciding what you do and don’t need, industry organizations such as us (Nairobi Kitchen Care) can provide you with useful resources and great advice from our experience.

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Bakery Start Up Equipment Necessary To Start Your a small Bakery

Oven

The number one equipment in this list is an oven. And since ovens vary considerably in price and quality, you might have to consider choosing a quality stove while starting out. Actually, small convection ovens can accommodate a maximum of five sheet pans, while their double convection counterparts can hold twice the number of pans. Furthermore, a double deck oven can allow you to bake your confection at two different temperatures at the same time, which makes it a good investment if you are planning to bake artisan breads.

Proofer

Professional bakers also need proof boxes for their roll dough and bread to rise at the recommended temperatures. And since proofers come in different sizes, mobile proof boxes can be recommended for small bakeries, and can as well be moved out when they are no longer in use. Better still, these proofers are generally less expensive than the built-in models, hence suited for small professional bakers who are just starting out.

Racks and baking sheets

Since you are starting out, you’ll be required to purchase at least ten baking sheets with three or more racks, as well. In addition, you’ll need a number of sheet cake pans, round cake pans, muffin tins and pie pans to start the business.

Mixers

Also important, a spiral mixers and planetary dough mixers with a capacity of 30 to 40 quarts are among the essential equipment to purchase while starting out your bakery business.

Work Tables

Work tables are important for storing all the items you need while baking or to provide ample working space in your bakery. For this reason, it’s recommended that you get the sturdiest work tables that suit your budget, since you’ll be using them most of the time. But most importantly, consider your height while choosing which work tables to buy; for example, if you’re tall, choose a table that matches your height to protect yourself from back pains.

Chiller

A chiller is “must-have” bakery equipment for storing cold ingredients like butter, milk, and cream. The good thing is that most chillers have flat worktops, which are great in providing the much-needed working space in bakeries. Preferably, getting a chiller with a stainless steel worktop may actually lessen your burden of having to buy more work tables, since you’ll have enough space for storing all the baking items that you need.

Sinks

Federal regulations require all commercial food operations including bakeries to at least have 3 sinks while starting out. One, you’ll be required to have a three-department sink for washing, rinsing and sanitizing your dishes and other appliances that cannot be effectively washed in a dishwasher. Two, Government regulations demand that you have a mop sink that’s exclusively reserved for cleaning your floor. Lastly, you will be required to have a separate sink in the kitchen for washing your hands before or while baking.

Freezers

If you’re planning to sell decorated cookies and cakes on a large scale, you’ll need industrial freezers to store the cakes and the cookie dough as well. Generally, these freezers are room-sized and can actually store a large number of cakes and cookies.

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