how to choose restaurant-equipment

How to Choose Restaurant Equipment: Ultimate Checklist with Tips

March 11, 2024

Selecting the ideal kitchen equipment is essential for any restaurant's success, directly influencing your kitchen's efficiency, the quality of food served, and, ultimately, your establishment's profitability.

This comprehensive guide aims to equip restaurant owners with the knowledge and insights needed to make informed choices about their restaurant equipment, ensuring every piece aligns with their specific needs and goals.

What are Important Factors to Consider when Choosing Restaurant Equipment?

Selecting the right kitchen equipment is a crucial decision for any restaurant owner. It's not just about filling your commercial kitchen with devices; it's about choosing the right type of equipment that enhances your kitchen's efficiency, aligns with your restaurant's concept, and meets your operational needs without overshooting your budget. From the power source of your ovens—whether gas or electric—to ensuring you have the right food processors for your menu items, every piece plays a vital role in the success of your restaurant business.

Understand Your Menu

Understanding your menu in-depth is the first critical step in selecting your restaurant kitchen equipment. Each dish you plan to serve requires specific preparation, cooking processes, and therefore, specific types of equipment.

Analyze Each Dish to Understand the Cooking Processes Involved

Whether you need a high-precision convection oven for baking or a powerful gas grill for your steaks, the equipment you choose should meet the demands of your menu items. This ensures that each dish is prepared with the right technique, maintaining the food quality and taste that your customers expect.

Consider What Equipment is Necessary for Preparing Your Ingredients

Preparation equipment like food processors, mixers, and slicers are just as important as cooking equipment. They help in prepping ingredients quickly and efficiently, ensuring consistency in food texture and quality across all dishes.

Transitioning from understanding the intricacies of your menu, it's equally important to consider how your restaurant's overall concept influences your equipment choices.

Consider Your Restaurant's Concept

Your restaurant's theme or concept plays a significant role in determining the type of kitchen equipment you need.

Match Equipment to Concept

For example, a pizza oven is central to an Italian restaurant, while a sushi bar may require specialized refrigeration for fresh fish. Aligning your equipment with your restaurant's concept not only supports the authenticity of your dishes but also enhances the overall dining experience for your customers.

Next, considering your kitchen's physical space and layout is essential for selecting equipment that fits well and supports an efficient workflow.

Assess Your Kitchen's Space and Layout

The available kitchen space and the layout are pivotal in determining what equipment you can accommodate and how it should be arranged for optimal efficiency.

Measure Your Kitchen Space to Ensure That the Equipment You're Considering Can Be Accommodated

Before purchasing any equipment, it's crucial to measure your kitchen space. This ensures that every piece fits perfectly and there's enough room for your kitchen staff to move around without hindrance.

Plan Your Kitchen Layout to Promote an Efficient Workflow

An effective kitchen layout promotes a seamless flow from one task to another, reducing unnecessary movements and allowing your kitchen staff to work more efficiently. This involves placing equipment in strategic locations to create a coherent flow from the prep area to the cooking stations and finally, to the serving area.

Project Your Customer Volume

Anticipating your customer volume is crucial for selecting the right commercial kitchen equipment. This foresight aids not just in meeting current demands but also in preparing for future growth.

Estimate the average number of customers you expect

Estimating the average number of customers your restaurant will serve daily helps in choosing equipment that can handle your demands efficiently. For instance, a high-volume convection oven can support a bustling bakery, while a durable and fast-paced POS system is essential for quick-service restaurants to manage orders effectively.

Choose equipment that can scale up with your business growth

Opt for equipment that offers scalability. As your restaurant grows, your kitchen equipment should be able to keep up without necessitating immediate replacements. Energy-efficient models or those with advanced technology features allow for adjustments based on increasing demands, ensuring long-term utility and cost savings.

Transitioning from the strategic forecasting of customer volume, focusing on the longevity and reliability of your equipment emerges as the next critical consideration.

Prioritize Durability and Quality

The durability and quality of your restaurant equipment directly impact your operational efficiency and bottom line. Investing in high-quality, durable equipment reduces long-term costs related to repairs, replacements, and downtime.

Include List with Criteria for assessing equipment quality, including material, build, and brand reputation.

When evaluating equipment, consider the material, construction quality, and the reputation of the brand. Stainless steel equipment, for instance, offers durability and ease of cleaning, whereas renowned brands may offer better warranties and customer support.

Read Reviews and Seek Recommendations

Leverage online reviews and seek recommendations from industry peers. Experiences shared by other restaurant owners can provide insights into the performance and reliability of equipment under real-world conditions.

The choice of where to purchase your equipment is as pivotal as the equipment itself. Selecting a supplier known for quality and reliability ensures you get the best value and support for your investment.

Choose a Supplier with a Good Reputation and Support

Choosing the right equipment supplier is about more than just the catalog of products they offer; it's about the quality of support and services they provide.

How to Select the Right Equipment Supplier?

Selecting the right supplier involves considering several factors to ensure they meet your business's unique needs and standards.

  • Visit showrooms: Seeing the equipment in person can offer a better sense of its quality and suitability for your kitchen.
  • Research different suppliers: Look into the range of products they offer, their pricing, and the additional services like installation, maintenance, and support.
  • Ask for feedback on suppliers: Insights from other restaurant owners can be invaluable. Their experiences can help you gauge the reliability and customer service quality of different suppliers.

One example of a trusted supplier is Kitchenall. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Kitchenall is a distributor of commercial restaurant and kitchen equipment and supplies for a diverse range of food service operations, including restaurants, bakeries, delis, and supermarkets.

We are committed to delivering top-quality commercial refrigeration, cooking, and display equipment at unbeatable prices, all backed by full manufacturer warranties. Kitchenall's dedication to customer satisfaction is evident in their approach; they understand that their success is directly tied to the positive experiences of their customers.

Offering a wide range of brand-new, high-quality equipment, Kitchenall ensures that every purchase supports the efficiency, quality, and growth of your restaurant.

Budget Considerations

When outfitting your restaurant with necessary kitchen equipment, balancing your desires with financial reality is crucial. Whether you're launching a new restaurant or upgrading an existing one, understanding your budget is the first step toward making informed decisions about your equipment needs. This process involves considering not only the purchase price but also the long-term costs related to energy consumption, maintenance, and potential repair costs.

Should You Lease or Buy Restaurant Equipment?

Choosing between leasing and buying restaurant equipment can significantly impact your budget and cash flow. Here's a closer look at the pros and cons of each option:

  • Pros of Leasing:
    • Lower Initial Costs: Leasing allows you to get the equipment you need without a hefty upfront payment, preserving your working capital for other areas of your business.
    • Flexibility: Leasing agreements may offer the flexibility to upgrade equipment as your business grows or as new technologies emerge.
    • Tax Benefits: Lease payments can often be deducted as business expenses on your tax return, potentially reducing the net cost of your lease.
  • Cons of Leasing:
    • Higher Long-Term Cost: Over time, leasing can be more expensive than purchasing equipment outright due to ongoing lease payments.
    • Contract Obligations: You're committed to making payments for the entire lease term, which can be a disadvantage if your equipment needs change.
  • Pros of Buying:
    • Ownership: Purchasing equipment means it's yours to keep, offering long-term savings and the possibility of recouping some of your investment through resale.
    • Depreciation Benefits: You can depreciate the cost of the equipment over its useful life, providing tax benefits.
    • No Contracts: Once you've purchased equipment, there are no monthly payments or contracts, providing freedom and flexibility.
  • Cons of Buying:
    • Upfront Costs: The initial investment for purchasing kitchen equipment can be significant, impacting your cash flow and budget.
    • Maintenance and Repairs: Ownership means you're responsible for all maintenance and repair costs, which can add up over time.

Choosing between New or Used Restaurant Equipment

Your decision to invest in new or used kitchen equipment will affect not only your initial costs but also the efficiency, longevity, and reliability of your operations.

  • Advantages of New Equipment:
    • Latest Technology: New equipment often incorporates the latest technology, improving efficiency and productivity.
    • Warranty Coverage: Most new equipment comes with a manufacturer's warranty, offering peace of mind and protection against early malfunctions.
    • Energy Efficiency: Modern equipment is more likely to have better energy efficiency, potentially saving you money on utility bills.
  • Disadvantages of New Equipment:
    • Higher Initial Investment: The most significant disadvantage of new equipment is the higher purchase price.
    • Depreciation: New equipment will depreciate faster, meaning it loses value quickly once it's in use.
  • Benefits of Used Restaurant Equipment:
    • Lower Purchase Price: Used equipment typically comes at a lower cost, making it a good option for restaurants with limited budgets.
    • Depreciation: Since used equipment has already undergone initial depreciation, it retains more of its value proportionally over time.
  • Drawbacks of Used Restaurant Equipment:
    • Unknown History: The condition and history of used equipment can be uncertain, risking unexpected repairs and maintenance.
    • Limited Warranty: Used equipment may not come with a warranty, or if it does, the coverage may be limited.

Energy Efficiency and Independent Certifications

In today's environmentally conscious market, opting for energy-efficient kitchen equipment can lead to significant savings on utility bills and contribute to a greener planet.

  • Energy Star Ratings: Look for the Energy Star certification when selecting equipment. This label indicates that the equipment meets or exceeds federal guidelines for energy efficiency, potentially reducing your power consumption and utility bills.
  • NSF Certification: The blue NSF sticker is another crucial mark to check for. This certification ensures that the equipment has passed independent testing for public health and safety standards, a non-negotiable factor in the restaurant industry.

Future Growth

When you're laying the groundwork for your restaurant, envisioning its growth is paramount. The equipment you choose now should not only serve your current needs but also adapt to your restaurant's evolving demands. Here’s how to ensure your equipment selection aligns with your growth:

  • Select Versatile Equipment: Opt for kitchen equipment that can serve multiple purposes. This flexibility allows you to expand your menu offerings without the need for additional purchases. For instance, a combi oven can bake, roast, steam, and even smoke food, making it a valuable asset as your menu grows.
  • Equipment Scalability: Invest in equipment that can handle increased volumes of business. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying the largest capacity equipment upfront but choosing equipment that can keep pace with your business growth. For example, modular cooking equipment can be expanded or upgraded without replacing the entire system.

As your restaurant evolves, so too should your equipment. Anticipating future needs and selecting equipment that grows with your business is not just cost-effective; it's strategic planning that ensures long-term success.

Other Factors and Tips to Consider When Selecting Restaurant Equipment

Making informed decisions about restaurant equipment involves more than just evaluating the initial cost or the brand name. Here are additional factors critical to your decision-making process:

Easiness of Use and Maintenance

Choose equipment that your staff can use efficiently and safely. Equipment that's easy to clean and maintain not only prolongs its life but also ensures it remains a hygienic part of your kitchen. Simple interfaces and clear instructions reduce training time and errors.

Warranty and Service Agreement

Look for equipment with solid warranties and service agreements. Understanding the terms of these warranties and what they cover can save significant money and headaches in the long run.

Compliance and Safety Standards

Ensure all equipment meets the necessary safety standards and complies with local health codes. Non-compliance can lead to fines or closures, so it's crucial to verify that equipment has passed all relevant inspections.

Flexibility and Versatility

Equipment that serves multiple functions can save space and cost. A piece that can adapt to various menu changes provides greater value over something with a single use.

Improved Technology and Innovation

Technologically advanced equipment can offer efficiencies that save time and money. Features like energy-saving modes or faster cook times can enhance your kitchen's overall productivity.

Operational Impact

Consider how the equipment will affect your kitchen’s workflow and staff efficiency. The right tools can streamline processes, whereas the wrong ones can create bottlenecks.

Environmental Impact

Selecting energy-efficient equipment not only reduces your carbon footprint but also lowers your utility bills. Look for Energy Star-rated appliances whenever possible.

Local Health Codes

Your equipment must comply with local health regulations. This is particularly important for used equipment, which may not meet current standards. Ensuring compliance prevents potential legal issues and contributes to a safe dining environment for your customers.

Assess Your Business Reality

Start by evaluating your restaurant's current needs and future aspirations. Consider the size of your kitchen space, the type of cuisine you offer, and your customer volume. This assessment will guide your equipment choices, ensuring they align with your operational requirements and business goals.

Research Thoroughly

Invest time in researching the different types of equipment available. Understand the features, benefits, and limitations of various models and brands. Consider energy efficiency, ease of use, and maintenance requirements. Your research should also include reading customer reviews and comparisons to gauge the performance and reliability of the equipment.

Get an External Point of View

Sometimes, an external perspective can provide insights that you might overlook. Talk to fellow restaurant owners, chefs, or industry consultants. Their experiences and advice can help you avoid common pitfalls and make informed decisions about the best equipment for your restaurant.

Hiring a Restaurant Kitchen Planner

For a more structured approach, consider hiring a professional kitchen planner. These experts can help design your kitchen layout for maximum efficiency and recommend the right equipment to match your culinary and business needs. Their expertise can be invaluable in optimizing your kitchen's functionality and workflow.

Think Safety First

Safety should be a paramount concern when selecting restaurant equipment. Ensure that all equipment meets the necessary safety standards and comes with the appropriate certifications. This includes considering ergonomics to prevent employee injuries and ensuring that cooking equipment has the necessary safety features to prevent accidents.

Calculate Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

The purchase price of equipment is just the beginning. Consider the total cost of ownership, which includes energy consumption, maintenance expenses, and the potential costs of downtime. Energy-efficient equipment, while potentially more expensive upfront, can lead to significant savings over time.

Negotiate Price

Don't hesitate to negotiate the price with suppliers. Volume discounts, seasonal promotions, or negotiating payment terms can lead to significant savings. Building a good relationship with your equipment supplier can also be beneficial for future purchases or services.

Consult with Experts

Seek advice from industry experts, including chefs who have extensive experience with various types of equipment. Their insights can help you make choices that align with professional standards and operational efficiency.

Stay Informed

The restaurant industry is continuously evolving, with new technologies and innovations regularly introduced. Staying informed about the latest trends and advancements in kitchen equipment can give you a competitive edge and help improve your restaurant's efficiency and productivity.

Test Before Buying

Whenever possible, test the equipment before making a purchase. Many suppliers offer demonstrations or trial periods. Testing the equipment can help you assess its performance, ease of use, and whether it meets your expectations.

Read the Fine Print for Hidden Costs

Carefully review the warranty and service agreements to understand what is and isn't covered. Be aware of any hidden costs, such as installation fees, service charges, or parts that are not covered under warranty. This due diligence can help you avoid unexpected expenses down the line.

What Common Mistakes Should You Avoid When Selecting Restaurant Equipment?

Selecting the right equipment is crucial for the success of any restaurant. Yet, many restaurant owners encounter pitfalls in this complex process. Understanding these common mistakes and how to avoid them can save you time, money, and a lot of stress.

  • Overlooking the Size and Fit: Ensure that the equipment fits in your kitchen space without obstructing the workflow. Measuring your space before purchasing can avoid costly adjustments later.
  • Ignoring Energy Efficiency: Opting for cheaper, less energy-efficient models can result in higher utility bills. Look for Energy Star-rated appliances to save on energy costs in the long run.
  • Failing to Plan for the Future: Purchasing equipment without considering future growth can lead to premature replacements. Choose versatile and scalable equipment that grows with your business.
  • Neglecting the Menu: Ensure the equipment aligns with your menu. Having a clear understanding of your menu needs can prevent you from buying unnecessary items.
  • Skipping the Research: Not researching the equipment's brand, warranty, and customer service reputation can lead to regrettable purchases. Spend time reading reviews and seeking recommendations.
  • Overlooking Local Health Codes and Regulations: Compliance is key. Failure to adhere to local health codes can result in fines or shutdowns. Always check that your equipment meets all regulatory requirements.

What Kitchen Equipment is Required for a Restaurant?

Every restaurant's kitchen needs to be equipped with the right tools to operate efficiently. Here's a short overview of the 10 most important pieces of equipment every restaurant kitchen should have:

  • Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers: To keep perishables at safe temperatures.
  • Cooking Ranges (Gas or Electric): For versatile cooking methods.
  • Ovens (Convection and Standard): Essential for baking and roasting.
  • Grills and Griddles: For frying, searing, and grilling.
  • Food Processors: To expedite food prep.
  • Mixers (Hand and Stand): For batters, doughs, and sauces.
  • Slicers: For precise cutting of meats and vegetables.
  • Dishwashers: For efficient cleaning.
  • Safety Equipment (Fire Extinguishers, First Aid Kits): To ensure safety in the kitchen.
  • Shelving and Storage Solutions: To organize ingredients and utensils efficiently.

These core items form the backbone of a restaurant's kitchen, supporting a wide range of dishes and cooking techniques while ensuring safety and efficiency.


Selecting the right restaurant equipment is more than just an investment in your kitchen's functionality; it's a foundational step toward realizing your culinary vision. Avoiding common pitfalls and understanding the essential equipment needed can set your restaurant on the path to success.

Feel free to contact Kitchenall for expert advice and more specific details on particular models. We are committed to the prosperity of your restaurant business.