Before you can select your restaurant equipment you need to have a pretty solid idea of what kind of menu you are going to have. Sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how often people start ordering stuff before they've figured out if they really need it.
Once you have your menu, then you need to know your location specifics- how much room you will have and how big your operation will be. This will help you determine, for example, if you are going have a walk-in refridgerator or not. You will also need to know about how much room yu will have under your hood, if you have one, and things like electrical supply and gas lines to run your equipment.
You need the measurements of your kitchen and storage areas so you can buy the right size tables, sinks, shelving, dishwasher, ice machine, etc. Nothing is worse than having your equipment arrive only to find it doesn't fit.
Getting the right equipment involves going back and forth with what equipment you need and your contractor on what space you have and where you can fit things.
Once you have the basic equipment needs outlined you can visit some restaurant equipment suppliers in your area and start shopping for specific brands and models and then narrow things down as you can farther along in the buid out process.
These suppliers can be a great resource for helping you in the restaurant business plan stage in determining costs and needs and they won't mind because they know you'll come back to them when it is time to buy.
The main catgories of equipment include:
Refridgeration- which includes your storage refridgerator(s) and freezer(s) which can be built in or free standing or a combination.
Cooking equipment- your ovens, ranges, grills, fryers and any specialty pieces you might need for your particular menu.
Line equipment- this is where you put the food together and usually includes both steam tables and cold pan drop ins tables that usually also have cold storage underneath. Many lines also have microwaves on top shelves and heat lamps or holding tables at one end of the line for the transition to the expediter, servers or counter staff.
Beverage equipment- ice machines and beverage dispensers would be included here.
Dishwasher- many restaurants lease this piece of equipment separately from the rest if they ren't just doing things by hand- depends on your type of operation.
Appliances- all the smaller pieces of cooking equipment you use like coffeemakers, toasters, mixers, blenders, waffle irons, panini grills, counter-top ovens, etc.
Work Tables and Sinks- simple but essential pieces of your layout.
Storage- your shelving and racks for bulk items as well as the tubs, buckets, etc. that you actually store the prepped, cooked and raw food in- make sure you get commercial restaurant grade equipment as this is a common area for health inspection dings.
Smallwares, Pots, Pans, Etc.- all the things you actually use with your hands to cook, cut, carry, mix, serve and move the food around.
Plates, Glasses, Silver- unless you are serving fast food you will need something to serve the food on and the drinks in.
Server Tools- trays, bus tubs, tray stands, carts, etc.
Bar Equipment- this includes all the specialty equipment for running a bar such as bottle racks, tap systems, bar sinks, garnish holders, back bar coolers, etc. How you set this up will depend on whether you will have bar seating or just have servers run drinks.
POS (Point of Sale) Systems- this is a complicated category of equipment sold by differente vendors than other equipment with a lot of decisions to be made so it gets its very own page where you can read all about restaurant POS systems and what to do about them.
Sound System- if you have music in your restaurant this would be courtesy of the sound system
Security System- this includes both door and window alarms and security systems as well cameras and safes to deter or minimize loss
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