There are a lot of logistics involved in opening a restaurant, and one of the biggest is putting together your kitchen. As the heart of your restaurant, you want to make sure you have a comprehensive restaurant kitchen equipment list that covers all of your bases, both in the back of house and the front of house, too. There will, of course, be different restaurant kitchen equipment lists depending on the type of establishment you’re opening, but having a good idea of all of the possibilities can help you narrow down your own list.
We’ll go over several different types of restaurant equipment and their uses as well as how to pay to equip your kitchen once you’ve decided on the gear that’s right for you.
There are several different factors involved in figuring out which restaurant kitchen equipment you need. Importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution: What you need for your restaurant will depend on its size, the type of establishment you run, and the menu you offer.
The first thing to consider is what equipment you need to complete your menu and serve your guests. You might want to walk through the process of each dish and make sure you have your bases covered with your equipment.
Another thing you want to consider is the flow of your kitchen space. How much equipment can you reasonably fit in your kitchen such that your team can move around smoothly? Walk through the space and determine what the daily workflow will look like before you make any purchasing decisions.
Here, we’ll list a comprehensive overview of different kinds of restaurant equipment. But, as we mentioned above, make sure you’re making decisions based on the type of restaurant you own and the experience you want to cultivate.
Refrigerators: There are several types of refrigerators that you might want to consider. These may include walk-ins or reach-ins, and it’s likely you’ll need more than one to keep all your food fresh.
Freezers: Similarly, you’ll want to make sure you have the appropriate freezer space, too.
Ice machine: For soft drinks and the bar, an ice machine is essential for quick service.
Range: So much food preparation is done on a range, so making sure you have a good one—preferably with many burners—can be essential to your operations.
Grill: Depending on your menu, you may be preparing dishes on a grill.
Griddle: If you serve breakfast, a griddle could come in handy for fast cooking and high-volume output.
Oven: An oven can be important not only for dinner, but also for pastry chefs preparing desserts, so consider the size and quantity you need.
Deep-fryer: Depending on the way you prep your food, a deep fryer can create crisp dishes that satisfy customers.
Microwave: Quick-heating is important, especially if you need to defrost raw ingredients.
Sous-vide: A higher-end piece of equipment that can help you produce tender meat.
Toaster: A fast, industrial toaster will help you toast at volume.
Coffee brewer: An industrial coffee brewer is essential for breakfast and after-dinner service.
Stand mixer: This will help with savory items such as ground meat and sweet items such as cakes and frosting.
Blender: Especially important for making milkshakes, smoothies, and other blended drinks.
Bussing carts or bins: Depending on how you plan to bus your tables, either of these will come in handy to help the process.
Shelving: You need a way to store your food and wares. Consider looking into different types of shelving depending on your footprint.
Dish rack: A drying rack for your dishes and a place to store them is essential.
Food storage containers: Good food storage containers made for both the refrigerator and freezer will help minimize food waste.
Wraps, papers, and foils: Similarly, a good range of wraps will help you preserve your food.
Pots: This includes a variety of types of pots, such as stock pots, soup pots, steaming pots, and more.
Pans: This also includes a variety of pans, such as sautée pans, saucepans, and more.
Plates and bowls: Serving your guests on deliberately picked dishware will elevate your restaurant experience. Make certain you consider appetizers, entrees, soups and salads, and desserts.
Flatware: The forks, knives, and spoons your customers will use to dine are essential.
Glassware: Here, you’ll want to think about different types of drinks, including hot beverages and alcoholic cocktails. This may include pint glasses, highball glasses, martini glasses, coffee cups, espresso cups, water glasses, milkshake glasses, and more.
Baking sheets and pans: For dessert-heavy restaurants, a variety of baking equipment is important. Remember, though, that these aren’t just for baking desserts.
Mixing and prep bowls: These can be used for things like marinating and breading but also mixing up dough or batter.
Cooking utensils: There’s a variety of cooking utensils to purchase depending on the type of cuisine you’re preparing. Among them are knives (essential), spoons, ladles, spatulas, tongs, pizza cutters, whisks, mezzalunas, etc.
Cutting boards: Good cutting boards are essential for prep. You’ll likely need separate ones to keep meat products separate from your vegetables and other items.
Dishwasher: A high-speed dishwasher and glass-washer will help you keep things moving and ensure a sanitary experience for customers.
Mops, cleaning rags, and sponges: Make sure you have a strong group of cleaning supplies to keep your kitchen spotless.
Cleaning buckets: You’ll need somewhere to store the cleaning solutions as you mop up.
Soaps and cleaners: Look out for cleaners specific to things such as stainless steel and ranges. Plus, keeping your staff’s hands clean is imperative in a busy kitchen.
Trash cans: Don’t forget to stock your kitchen with multiple trash cans so the flow of work doesn’t get disrupted. And in addition to garbage, make sure you’re complying with your local recycling laws.
Composter: Especially if you’re an eco-conscious restaurant, a composter is a very smart way to handle food waste.
Fire extinguisher: Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but a fire extinguisher is a must.
Safety signs: Spills are inevitable, so make sure you have the proper signage to alert customers and employees of slippery surfaces; otherwise, you could be looking at a lawsuit if someone falls and injures themselves.
It’s not only about knowing what’s on your restaurant kitchen equipment list, but also finding a way to finance the purchase of the gear that you need. There are a few small business loan options that could be a specific fit for outfitting your restaurant kitchen.
A strong choice for directly financing large assets, such as kitchen equipment, are equipment loans. With this type of financing, you work with a lender to finance a large percentage of the piece of equipment. The repayment term lasts the life of the equipment.
A major benefit of equipment financing is that some business owners with lower credit scores can access this type of funding because the loan is “self secured,” which means that the asset you’re financing serves as the collateral for the loan itself. In most cases, you won’t need additional collateral.
A business line of credit is a highly flexible type of small business financing that business owners can use to purchase equipment. A business line of credit works similarly to a business credit card in the sense that you’re approved for a line of credit and can spend against it as you’d like up to the limit.
Here, however, you work with a lender instead of a credit card company. You only pay interest on the amount that you draw. This is not only a good type of financing for securing equipment, but also great for cash flow in general, which could help you as a restaurant.
If you don’t want to seek financing in the form of a loan, you might want to consider a business credit card. A credit card can be especially helpful for the smaller purchases you’re making, such as flatware or storage containers, which is still very necessary for operations.
You have several different options for business credit cards, including business credit cards for bad credit, rewards credit cards, and 0% introductory APR cards, which let you spend without interest for a fixed period of time.
It might be the case that you’re unable to outfit a kitchen with entirely new equipment. An alternative may be to pursue equipment leasing or second-hand purchasing as an alternative.
With equipment leasing, you aren’t outright purchasing the equipment, but rather have it for a finite amount of time and pay a monthly fee, like you might a car. This can help restaurateurs who use equipment that’s constantly being updated, so they can switch to a new model without having to sell existing equipment.
Purchasing second-hand equipment is also possible. Some restaurants that are closing will sell off valuable equipment for much less money, which you can take advantage of to launch your own restaurant.
There’s no doubt about it—you’ll definitely need a lot of equipment to stock your restaurant kitchen. Do a thorough review of your menu and processes to make sure you have both enough—but not too much—equipment. And, even if you don’t need it right now, consider looking into restaurant kitchen equipment financing options so you don’t get caught in a bind down the line.
Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of the Fundera Ledger and the editorial director at Fundera.
Sally has over a decade of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at AOL.com, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan magazines.