"What do I need to open a restaurant?" We can help.

Updated: Aug 12, 2019


Without going any further, it is undeniable fact that running a restaurant can be cost heavy and will demand a ton of attention. There are ways to alleviate the burden of expenses, which will be discussed later on, but it is important to know the extremes that come with operating in the food industry. For the purpose of this article, we are going to discuss the physical objects in a restaurant such as fixtures, commercial appliances, and other large items.

With that known, let us begin.

Interested in owning a restaurant? Well, you have to operate it too, unless you can afford to hire a dedicated general manager. When people get into the restaurant industry for the first time, it is not uncommon for them to become immediately overwhelmed, burdened by expenses, and discouraged.

When you own a restaurant, you literally own a restaurant. Everything about it falls on your shoulders. The first shock new business owners experience is that of the expenses. Everything from employees to equipment and licenses to overhead can be overwhelming. But, nothing is impossible.

We are going to discuss a few items necessary in the majority of restaurants, the costs of them, and what alternatives you have for purchasing them in your budget.

As one of the most American type restaurants around, our example will serve exceptional burger and fries along with salad and vegan options for inclusion. (It is always best to serve the customers on their terms, tastes, and preferences; not yours. Always be sure to identify your market and the demographics before jumping in the deep end.)

The first step is to decide what equipment you need, things that are fundamentally necessary to your service. To do this, we are going to isolate each menu item, walk through the steps to prepare it, and decide what equipment is required.

The Burger

Classic American cuisine boasting an 8 oz. meat patty on a bun, topped with sliced cheese, slice red tomato, garnished with lettuce, and a sweet & tangy house ketchup sauce. Finish it off with a slightly toasted hamburger bun ordained with classic sesame seeds.

Hungry yet?

Ok. So we have our recipe. Now, we have to look at each step to figure out how to cook it. For the meat patty, it would probably be most efficient to cook on a griddle. To prepare the vegetables, we need a prep table with refrigeration capabilities. Finally, the buns. We can choose to melt butter and herbs and toast it on the griddle, or we can buy a bun toaster. For simplicity sake, let's just stick with using minimal equipment to save money.

What about storage? When you order meat, cheese, and vegetables, where do they go? Straight on the plate for consumption? Doubtful. Deliveries rarely happen during peak service hours, therefore you must have adequate storage space. Your options are bountiful, and it depends on how many customers you plan on serving, but you will need a freezer AND a cooler. They are certainly not the same and cannot be used interchangeably.

The Fries

Easy, you just need a deep fryer. It is a standard piece of equipment for many restaurants across many different cuisines, so you could have almost seen that one coming.

The Salad

Assembly required and not much else. You already need a prep table for the tomatoes and lettuce, so you don't need to buy another one.

The Vegan Option

Thankfully, what ever option you choose, you should have all the necessary equipment to prepare.

The greatest benefit to serving food of the same type, is that most of your equipment can be multi purposed into to preparing several plates.

There is more..

There are certain standard items you must also buy, but do not worry, most of these are much more affordable that their counterparts. First step, a sink. Easy. Shelving and racks for storage.

That's pretty much it!

The Results and Money Talk

After running through each dish, we now have a better idea what we need before we open our doors. We decided to get a griddle, a prep table with refrigeration, a cooler, a freezer, deep fryer, along with a sink and shelving. Here is a table to make it easier to see.

How do we decide what brand and size of equipment to buy?

Both of these factors depend on two things: your budget and the amount of customers you intend on serving. We will say we are on a budget, so nothing too fancy, and we intend on serving less than 50 patrons at one time.

*The items above are picked with the expectation to serve less than 50 patrons whilst on a budget

Buying New

Buying new equipment is a surefire way to spend more than you need to to get your business up an running. The benefit to buying new is that you often have warranties if things break, and you have the privilege of owning a piece of equipment while it still smells like a new car.

Often, restaurant owners will purchased used equipment as it is much more affordable and sometimes only slightly used.

Let's compare and contrast:

Used prices were based off of Franklin Fixtures going rates for equivalent or same items

The Results and Comparison

By far, used costs are much more manageable than new items. Although you get warranties and the privilege of being the only owner when you buy new, you do not get the initial savings. With a difference of over $4,000, it is imperative that you do your due diligence and scout out the best avenue for you and your restaurant.

It is also important to understand the capacity at which you are expecting to produce. If we bumped up the capacity to 150 patrons, you can expect to purchase more appropriate equipment. Not to mention, you would need additional kitchen space to prepare dishes.

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