If you want to open a restaurant without going in the red within a few weeks, you need to manage your startup costs properly. This means appropriately allocating your resources to ensure that you have everything you need without wasting money on those you don’t.
Tools and equipment are one of the most significant cost drivers when opening a restaurant, so you have to be particularly careful about where your money goes.
But which ones are absolutely necessary for your restaurant, and which ones can you do without?
In this article, we’ll discuss 25 essential restaurant tools and equipment to help you determine the right ones to invest in.
This section includes tools and equipment that you’d most likely equate to a restaurant. Anything that helps you prepare, cook, and serve food belongs here.
Airflow should be a primary consideration when outfitting a restaurant, especially in the kitchen.
After all, not having enough ventilation in a well-populated, high-temperature area is a recipe for all kinds of disasters.
Make sure there’s adequate airflow to keep your staff comfortable and your equipment free from potential risks.
Such a design decision will usually entail selecting a reliable ventilation system that controls airflow and temperature for your establishment. Consider the following factors as well:
- Air volume flow rate
- Static pressure
- Energy consumption
- Area size
2. Safety Equipment
It’s best to prevent emergencies before they happen, and preparing for the worst entails getting safety equipment applicable to your restaurant.
Your safety needs will depend on what kind of restaurant you operate. For example, a small food stall likely doesn’t have the space for an elaborate fire detection system. A fire extinguisher will usually be enough. Likewise, large indoor restaurants need a competent smoke detector, alarm, and sprinklers.
Here are some of the most common safety items you might want to add to your list.
- First aid kits
- Fire protection equipment (extinguishers, emergency blades)
- Signage (authorized personnel only, hot surface signs, etc.)
- Kitchen protective equipment (aprons and uniforms, oven mitts, cooking goggles, hairnets)
- Security cameras
3. Cooking Equipment
Your cooking equipment will depend primarily on what kind of restaurant you operate and your menu.
However, it’s generally good advice for startup restaurants to stick to versatile equipment that can perform many functions. The only exception is if your place specializes in a specific type of food.
The most common cooking equipment you might want to look at is the following.
- Deep Fryers
Another thing to keep in mind is to invest in high-quality cooking equipment. Your startup costs will be higher if you buy premium products, but the smooth, efficient, and long-lasting use you get from them will simply be worth it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find ways to get better deals.
Often, you can also get high-quality equipment for cheap as a second-hand buy – you just have to be extra careful in your inspection.
Servingware includes everything your servers need to get food from the kitchen into the table. If you have a dine-in indoor restaurant, mid-tier to high-end servingware is an excellent investment.
These are tools that your customers will see every time they eat at your place. Investing in high-quality servingware will immediately improve customer experience: when they know that you pay attention to the details, they’ll feel more at ease eating your food.
A beautiful and “Instagrammable” food presentation is also a big plus, as it can help you boost your brand.
Here are the types of servingware you should be paying attention to:
- Linens (napkins and tablecloths)
- Displayware (tasting dishes, baskets, etc.)
- Dishware (plates, bowls, platters, etc.)
- Glassware (water, wine, beer, cocktail, dessert glasses, etc.)
- Flatware (spoons, forks, serving utensils, knives)
- Accessories (plate covers, coffee mugs, saucers, dessert dishes, sauce cups, etc.)
For restaurants that bake their own pastries, commercial mixers are a must.
Commercial mixers are designed to handle significant amounts of ingredients and can withstand more frequent use.
You need to consider three types of mixers when choosing one for your restaurant.
- Hand mixers. Hand-held and lightweight, hand mixers can make quick work of soups, sauces, and other low-level mixing.
- Countertop mixers. Countertop mixers are used for larger jobs with a higher capacity than hand mixers, such as making baked goods.
- Floor mixers. Kitchens that need a high volume of thoroughly mixed ingredients (dough, sauce, or batter) will need heavy-duty mixers that sit on the floor and consume additional floor space in your restaurant kitchen.
While most mainstream restaurants don’t think of blenders as a piece of primary equipment, you might be one of those who do.
Health-oriented establishments may want to add a variety of fruit smoothies to their menu, and bars may want to keep a blender or two for making alcoholic mixtures.
Kitchens that grind their grains into specialty flour and make their own plant-based milk also include those that will benefit the most from this handy equipment.
There are different types of blenders that you might want to consider when buying equipment for your restaurant, such as the following:
- Immersion blenders. Immersion blenders don’t have their cups or bowls so that you can use them with other containers. While this improves versatility, it’s also the least powerful type of blender.
- Personal blenders. These blenders are small, usually the size of a unique mug. Blenders like this are most often used to make a single serving of health drinks.
- Standard blenders. Also called countertop blenders, this is what you will usually find in a cooking homeowner’s cabinet. Countertop blenders are powerful enough for occasional use in making shakes, smoothies, and purees.
- High-speed blenders. These blenders are what commercial establishments typically use, with a higher capacity and greater power than others. However, it’s also more expensive and, in many cases, makes a significant amount of noise.
Restaurants cut up a ton of things every day.
Using slicers can drastically reduce the time and labor associated with conducting repetitive, high-volume cutting, such as for garnishes or ingredients.
This makes slicers ideal for high-volume restaurants that prepare a lot of their ingredients on their own.
If that sounds like your establishment, you should be thinking of getting one. When you do, make sure that you consider the following factors:
- Type (manual or automatic)
- Blade size
8. Sharpening Stones
Professional kitchens can’t afford the loss of productivity that dull knives can bring to the workspace.
Not just that – dull knives are also more dangerous than sharp ones, as they’re more likely to slip and hit unintended targets.
Thus, whether you’re a vegan establishment or a steakhouse, sharpening stones should be a mainstay of your kitchen. Invest in high-quality sharpening stones to keep your kitchen tools in tip-top shape.
9. Coffee Brewers
About 64% of Americans consume coffee every day. In raw numbers, this translates to over 150 million Americans drinking roughly 400 million cups of this beverage every day.
Coffee is in massive demand wherever you are in the country, so it simply pays to include it in your menu.
If you want to make the best coffee in town, you’re going to need the following:
- Brewing units
- Automatic drip systems
- Espresso machine
10. Food Processors
Food processors are all-in-one food preparation equipment that can chop, grate, grind, knead, and puree – among many other prep techniques, depending on the attachment.
This equipment can be expensive and somewhat limited by its capacities, so it’s certainly not for everyone. However, keep in mind that having a commercial-grade food processor can cut down preparation time immensely.
It will also allow your cooks to have a consistently high level of preparation that will guarantee high-quality output.
Storage and Refrigeration Equipment
No kitchen can function properly without a good amount of storage and refrigeration equipment.
Quality storage and refrigeration solutions don’t just make sure that your ingredients remain fresh – they also increase your production capacity, not to mention avoid potential health code violations.
In this section, we’ll discuss storage and refrigeration equipment you may want to consider adding to your establishment.
11. Refrigerators and Freezers
Refrigerators and freezers are no-brainers for any restaurant. Depending on the size of your establishment, investing in units with a proportional capacity to your average daily turnout rate is essential.
You don’t want to have units with too little capacity, or you’ll need to restock more often. On the other hand, units that are too big would be too costly to run if your output doesn’t match.
When choosing refrigerators and freezers for your restaurant, consider the following appliances.
- Reach-in refrigerator units
- Walk-in coolers
- Condenser units
12. Storage Units
When thinking of storage units, you need to have your restaurant’s daily operations in mind. This is because a restaurant kitchen is a hectic environment, and inefficient storage places can compound the problem and even lead to workplace accidents and injuries.
Thus, you need to designate specific storage places for everything that will maximize the flooring area of your kitchen.
When planning your storage design, consider the following equipment:
- Holding Cabinets
- Utility Carts
13. Food Storage Containers
Even if you already have a place for your perishable and non-perishable food items, you’re probably going to need another set of containers to organize them and store them hygienically.
Thus, when designing your storage space, don’t forget to make measurement allowances for food storage containers, such as boxes of produce, sacks/barrels of grain, bottle racks, and other relevant items for your establishment.
Your restaurant kitchen must maintain a high standard of hygiene so you need to have the right cleaning equipment for your establishment.
14. Kitchen Sink
Your kitchen sink is the linchpin of your cleaning operations – without a well-functioning and spacious sink, everything will fall apart. It’s a place for your employees to wash their hands, clean the dishes, rinse ingredients – the list goes on and on.
Make sure that you install and maintain an industrial-level kitchen sink capable of handling many use cases. Here are the most common types of sinks in restaurants:
- Compartment sinks
- Bar type sinks
- Disposal sinks
- Drop-in sinks
- Handwashing sinks
- Mop sinks
- Portable sinks
15. Washing Equipment
A functioning sink isn’t all you need to keep a clean kitchen and restaurant. You also need everything that comes with it, such as the following:
- High-quality cleaning products
16. Mops and Buckets
Whereas sinks and washing equipment will be centered around your kitchen area, mops and buckets are what will keep your floor clean.
Regardless of the time of day, it’s critical for a restaurant to keep a spotless floor so you should have available mops and buckets at any time.
17. Brooms and Dustpans
Like mops and buckets, broom-and-dustpan sets will also help your entire restaurant area stay neat and tidy.
Always keep several of them close because spills and littering can happen anytime during business hours.
18. Recycling Bins
Restaurants go through many packaged products every week so it’s essential to recycle plastics, metals, cardboard, glass, and other items.
Besides being the right thing to do, recycling bins are critical to comply with any local regulations about garbage disposal.
19. Wet Floor Signs
Wet floors are hazardous, and if you don’t provide enough warning to passers-by about potential dangers like these – their injury will likely be on you.
Keep several wet floor signs in an accessible part of your kitchen where your employees can quickly get to it should there be an immediate need.
Most of the equipment we’ve looked at so far is concentrated on the back-end, the invisible part that makes everything tick.
However, the customer-facing front-of-the-house is just as important, so you need to decide wisely on what equipment to have in that area.
20. Menu Boards
Whether you use them to display your full menu or select specials, your menu boards must be professional and well-made.
This doesn’t just mean having the most comprehensive physical board that you can buy – there’s plenty more that goes into creating an appealing menu board for your customers. Here are a few factors.
- Type. Physical menu boards aren’t the only choices nowadays – you also have the chance to put up your menu on various digital displays. Decide on which one is the best for your restaurant.
- Design. A menu board will serve to entice customers to walk in and order so you need a design that looks appealing.
- Contents. Aside from the visual imagery, customers also appreciate an informative menu. It doesn’t have to contain too much information, but just enough to guide your customer’s decisions.
21. Condiment Dispensers
Customers will always ask for extra condiments. Whether it’s a simple salt and pepper combo, or more exotic ingredients that you offer, your condiments need to be housed in professional-looking condiment dispensers.
The devil is in the details, as the old saying goes. When your customers notice the effort you’ve put into the details of your service, they’ll be more impressed and satisfied with their restaurant experience.
22. Beverage Dispensers
Depending on the type of restaurant you operate, your beverage dispensers can be simple self-service appliances or placed behind wait stations for staff to man.
Whatever the case, you need to have a highly-visible and accessible area for this equipment as customers will look for a drink in one way or another. Consider the following factors when choosing what kind of beverage dispenser setup you’d like to have.
- Restaurant type. A high-end restaurant will usually have beverage dispensers behind a waiting area or at a portion of a long banquet table. Fast foods and similar establishments tend to gravitate towards more efficient solutions, such as self-service.
- Beverages. There are different types of beverage dispensers, depending on what kind of drink you serve. Make sure you choose the correct type.
- Capacity. The rate at which your drinks are consumed should be adequately balanced with the dispenser’s volume capacity.
Operational tools are over-arching systems that govern your restaurant. These are the tools and software that power any modern restaurant business, so you need to factor this in when starting up.
23. Point of Sale (POS) System
A restaurant’s POS system is the brain of your restaurant. It keeps track of your inventory, manages your transactions, and reflects the changes in your finances.
In today’s fast-paced, efficiency-focused environment, it’s fair to say that modern restaurants simply can’t function the way they’re intended to without a decent POS system.
That said, you shouldn’t just subscribe to the first system you see. Instead, consider the following factors:
- Subscription price
- Hardware inclusion
- Customer support
24. Kitchen Display System (KDS)
Kitchen display systems (KDS) are a cutting-edge restaurant technology that helps kitchen staff view and prioritizes orders better.
This type of software replaces all your pen and paper orders with a digital version. Aside from making the process more seamless and efficient, it also gives the kitchen staff the right amount of information needed to create the order.
With a KDS, your front-of-house and kitchen staff will be intimately linked, creating a top-notch customer experience that can’t be reproduced by pen and paper.
25. Closed-Circuit Television System (CCTV)
A CCTV or surveillance system is one of the mainstays in the restaurant industry.
Advanced cameras can monitor your surroundings and easily catch a crime when it takes place, allowing your restaurant staff to react as soon as they can.
You can go a step further and use artificial intelligence to automatically audit your video footage instead of investigating incidents manually. For example, technology like Glimpse can alert you of common issues in your restaurant by analysing your video footage and POS data.
Getting the Right Tools and Equipment For Your Restaurant
As the restaurant industry is undergoing a phase of rapid development, it’s essential to secure the right equipment for your establishment or risk starting with a disadvantage.
With this article, we hope we’ve helped direct and narrow down your search to pick the best tools and equipment for your business.