Proper restaurant equipment is just one of the many components of a successful restaurant operation. Good equipment will cut down your energy bill and check times, making your restaurant more efficient, productive and profitable.
Selecting the right restaurant equipment can be a daunting task, but you can ensure that you’ll choose the right equipment if you start with your menu, plan ahead and make smart investments.
Standard restaurant equipment includes refrigerators and preparation and cooking equipment.
Refrigerators will prevent bacterial growth and maximize the shelf life of perishable foods. Preparation equipment, such as food processors, will accelerate cook times and save a great deal of labor.
Your costliest kitchen expense will be cooking equipment. This usually includes ranges (open burners), deep fryers, broilers, ovens and salamanders (top heat).
The best way to ensure that you get the proper equipment for your restaurant is to consult the person who will be using it – your chef. They will be familiar with your menu and know what kind of equipment is necessary to meet its needs.
Steps towards selecting the necessary restaurant equipment
Consult your menu
Not all restaurants have identical menus, so why should they have identical equipment? Before making any restaurant equipment purchases, you should take your menu into consideration.
Your restaurant’s cooking techniques and serving sizes, along with the type of food that you serve can help determine what equipment you should purchase for your kitchen. This may also be determined by what type of fuel you cook with. For instance, a restaurant that serves a lot of Asian dishes may benefit from cooking with propane because it produces an intense heat. Other fuel options include wood, natural gas, electric, steam and heating oil.
Also, as your restaurant becomes established in the community, it is likely to receive an increase in volume. Take this, along with considerations for future menu development into account as you assess your restaurant kitchen equipment needs. Should you purchase some mobile pieces? Will your ovens be able to handle future volume?
Without considering the particular needs of your menu, you may end up with the wrong amount of space, storage or refrigeration.
Restaurant equipment selection should precede the restaurant design process. By planning ahead, you can designate where equipment should be placed, working it into the overall traffic pattern of your kitchen floor plan. This will make equipment easily accessible to employees and help avoid traffic flow problems.
When purchasing equipment for newly-built restaurants, conduct a walk-through with your general contractor and electrician to ensure you are in compliance with code regulations. Work with them to develop an emergency shut-off procedure for your restaurant equipment. Request a full set of building and equipment plans for your operational files. Also, contact your local government agencies for any specialty licensing or permit requirements.
Consider working with a restaurant design consultant who has the know-how to suitably incorporate your restaurant equipment into your kitchen layout. Sensible equipment placement will help your employees provide better, faster service, contributing to overall restaurant efficiency.
Once you have determined what equipment you need, shop around for a good value. Making smart equipment investments will save you a bundle in the long run.
Equipment maintenance and safety
Proper restaurant equipment maintenance will save you money on your energy bill and repairs and ultimately cut costs. Well-maintained restaurant equipment will also ensure a more sanitary and safe kitchen.
Creating an equipment maintenance logbook will help you keep up with the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer. Filling out warranty cards will give you recourse if the restaurant equipment you purchased turns out to be defective. Warranty cards also help manufacturers reach customers if the product they purchased needs to be recalled.
Post phone numbers for restaurant equipment repairs on your equipment when possible. Maintenance procedures should also be posted in designated areas in case repairs must be executed in house. If your restaurant uses complex equipment, hire a reliable maintenance technician and make sure that preventative maintenance is performed.
Always conduct a test run before using any new restaurant equipment. Run the ice machine, empty it, sanitize it and refill it. Check the walk-in and refrigeration temperatures. Calibrate the temperatures for your fryers, griddle, oven and stove.
Careful selection, planning and maintenance of restaurant equipment will ensure a smooth restaurant operation.