Opening your first restaurant is an exciting jump that will hopefully bring you years of happiness, wealth, and success. But before you open your doors, you need to choose the best equipment for your new eatery.
Properly furnishing your restaurant with the best production equipment, furnishings, and digital menu boards is an important task that requires significant investment (both in terms of finances and time).
To help, we’ve created a guide to choosing the right equipment for your first restaurant and the top three considerations to have when selecting different tools, appliances, and furnishings.
What equipment do you need when opening a restaurant?
Even the smallest of eateries require a long list of equipment to get started. The exact equipment you need depends on various factors, including the type of restaurant, customers, food, and location – but broadly falls into four categories:
- Food production equipment
- Digital signage menus
- Front of house equipment
3 factors to consider when choosing production equipment
Food production equipment covers everything you need to store and prepare food in your restaurant, including:
- Knives, spoons, and slicers
- Pots and pans
- Ovens and grills
- Fridges and freezers
The main factors to consider when buying production equipment for your first restaurant are:
1) Commercial grade vs. consumer grade
It can be tempting to save money by investing in consumer-grade kitchen equipment for your restaurant, but this can cost more money long-term.
Commercial grade kitchen equipment is designed for heavy-duty service and, therefore, is easier to use and more durable than commercial equipment – it’s going to last longer. Commercial grade equipment will also attract better quality chefs who cook better quality food.
2) New vs. used
There’s a huge market of used restaurant equipment from restaurateurs who are leaving the scene, upgrading their equipment, or changing premises.
Used kitchen equipment is a great way to save money in your restaurant’s early days but be mindful of expired or breached warranties and a limited selection to choose from.
You must work with the space you’ve got, which means ensuring your shiny new kitchen equipment fits into your new kitchen.
Spend time measuring your premises and planning what equipment can fit where. A walk-in freezer might be the dream, but if you don’t have the room you’ll need to wait until restaurant #2.
3 factors to consider when choosing your digital menu board
If you’re opening a drive-through eatery, fast-food restaurant, or casual dining establishment, or you simply want to inject a bit of technology into your business, a digital menu board is a must.
A digital menu board replaces traditional menu signs, posters, and booklets to give customers a fresh, updated, and engaging experience when choosing their food. You don’t have to worry about dirty, outdated, or paper-wasting menus – instead, you use technology to advertise your food and help customers make the right choice.
Three factors to consider when choosing a digital menu board are:
1) Quality vs. cost
Quality matters when it comes to technology, especially digital menu signage. By choosing quality equipment in the first place, you avoid headaches and things breaking later down the line. Work with a reputable digital signage company to find the best menu board to suit your needs and budget.
Some digital menu boards come with an interactive interface that allows diners to browse the menu, select their meal, and even place their order. This can streamline the order process while freeing up your front-of-house staff to help out elsewhere.
A digital menu board is more than a TV screen. Not only does a digital menu board display menus, adverts, and videos, but you can also easily update the content, show your social media feed, schedule menu changes, and more. Discuss these features with your digital signage supplier.
Tip: Digital signage isn’t just for the front of the house. You can include digital menu boards in your restaurant windows, to advertise your eatery and attract the attention of passers-by, or in your staff room, to keep employees updated on the latest menu changes and health and safety news.
3 factors to consider when choosing front of house equipment
Front of house equipment covers nearly everything that doesn’t fit into the kitchen, including:
- Tableware and cutlery
- Condiment holders
- Point of sale systems
The main considerations when investing in front of house equipment are:
You want your restaurant to be memorable and easily recognizable, which means you must consider your branding when buying anything for the front of the house. Whether that’s checkered tablecloths, big comfy armchairs, gold plated cutlery, or retro-style ketchup dispensers – ensure you furnish your restaurant according to the atmosphere and memory you want to create.
2) Guest numbers
Don’t skimp out on your front-of-house equipment. Reusable purchases such as tablecloths, cutlery, and chair covers need to be laundered between diners, which means you need enough to see you through a service night and the days following until they can be washed, dried, and pressed. The last thing you want is naked tables or diners eating soup with a fork.
You can lease a lot of restaurant equipment, including furniture such as tables and chairs, and even point of sale systems. This is a great way to lower your start-up costs and start with the furniture you can’t yet afford to buy in full. However, be mindful of any damage, termination, and interest fees that could later sting you.
Other purchases for your first restaurant
That’s the main purchases covered, but depending on your style of restaurant, you might also need to consider:
- Barware – such as display cabinets, bar stools, cocktail equipment, and ice machines.
- Staff equipment – such as uniforms, aprons, order pads, and pens.
- Office equipment – such as a computer, printer, telephone, and desk.
- Decorative touches – such as paintings, statues, and even fish tanks.
Food brings people together, spreads joy and happiness, and is at the heart of your restaurant business.
As you can see, opening up your first restaurant requires a lot of equipment, but when you choose right, you choose success.