Restaurant equipment checklist for new restuarant businesses.

The Equipment You Need to Reopen a Restaurant: Full Checklist

Picture this, you’ve inherited or bought a restaurant. You’re looking to revamp it and make it the most popular haunt on the block. Maybe you want to remodel, update the menu, hire new staff. It’s up to you. Fast forward to a few months later and the tables are bustling with guests and servers as your rebrand is a huge success because you cracked the code to restauranteering.

Hold on, let’s go back to reality. Unfortunately, you’ve never run your own restaurant before. You know you have a fryer, a grill, a freezer, and an oven, but what if you’re missing something because of your inexperience? What if you forgot an essential piece of commercial kitchen equipment?

You may end up turning patrons away for as long as it takes to have a new machine delivered. In this case, you’ll waste opportunities to make connections with new customers.

And, in the worst-case scenario, you could get shut down by the health inspector for code violations.

Above is a screenshot taken from a list of NYC restaurants closed from October 12-18, 2019. One restaurant’s violations was their failure to keep a thermometer in the kitchen. Now, their business operations have been banned by the Department of Health.

But, don’t worry. This doesn’t have to be you. Instead, use this complete restaurant equipment checklist to make sure you have everything you need before you reopen your doors to the public.

Front of House vs Back of House Restaurant Equipment

Front of house (FOH) equipment is everything that appears on the floor or dining area of a restaurant. Back of house (BOH) encompasses the tools in the kitchen area where only the staff is allowed. FOH supplies and furniture are used by your hosts, wait staff, and customers. BOH appliances and tools are used only by your staff.

It’s easier to make executive purchase decisions when you divide your responsibilities into segments. For this purpose, we’ll first look at the FOH foodservice equipment needs. Then, we’ll explore the BOH appliance and supply necessities for your kitchen.

FOH Restaurant Equipment Checklist

Here’s a list of everything you need on the floor of your restaurant (besides great food and happy servers).

  • Bartender Tools & Accessories
  • Coffee Maker
  • Decor
  • Displays
  • Drink Dispensers
  • Furniture
  • Ice Scoops & Holders
  • Linens
  • Payment Equipment
  • Restroom Supplies
  • Security System
  • Serving Dishes & Cutlery
  • Small Appliances
  • Storage

BOH Restaurant Equipment Checklist

Here’s a kitchen equipment list to

  • Bakeware
  • Bussing and Utility Carts and Bins
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Chef Knives
  • Cookware/ Cooking Equipment
  • Cutting Boards
  • Deep-Fryer
  • Dishwasher
  • Food Prep Counters
  • Freezer
  • Commercial Grill
  • Holding Equipment
  • Ice Machine
  • Janitorial Supplies
  • Office Supplies
  • Oven
  • Payroll Tools
  • Range
  • Reach-in Cooler
  • Refrigerator/ Walk-In Cooler
  • Rubber Floor Mats
  • Safety Equipment
  • Salamander or Broiler
  • Shelving and Baker’s Racks
  • Sinks
  • Small Appliances
  • Storage
  • Time & Attendance Tools

Download a complete restaurant equipment checklist (PDF). The downloadable restaurant kitchen equipment list includes further details such as specific types of serving ware, janitorial supplies, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some of the most common questions people ask about restaurant equipment purchases.

How much money do I need to reopen or remodel a restaurant?

The cost of reopening a restaurant varies tremendously. Depending on your service style, amount of seats, and cuisine, you can pay from a few thousand to a few million dollars. The average total cost, according to a RestaurantOwner.com member survey, is $375,500; this translates to roughly $113 per square foot or $3,586 per seat.

According to another source, if you lease a full set of restaurant equipment, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 per month.

Should I purchase new or used equipment for my restaurant?

As an inexperienced business owner, you will presumably do fine to purchase some or even most of your restaurant equipment used. Many restaurant owners do so to save money. However, if you’re asking this question, you’re likely interested in newer purchases on a fixed budget.

So, if you don’t have the resources for the supplies you want, consider equipment lease options to save money or specialty financing to increase your immediate working capital.

Should I lease or buy my restaurant equipment?

The decision to lease or purchase restaurant equipment depends on how much  capital you have to work with. When you lease, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars each month. On the flip side, when you purchase, you will likely need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars upfront.

How can I fund restaurant equipment purchases?

Restaurant owners can leverage traditional, private, or specialty funding to purchase equipment. The type of funding you choose will depend on your credit score, time in business, income, and a number of other factors. A financial specialist can help you determine the best financing options for your situation.

What organization sets the standard for food equipment?

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is responsible for commercial food equipment safety standards. There are currently over 75 rules in place for sanitary food equipment materials, design, manufacturing, and performance.

Does restaurant equipment have to be certified?

It is likely that at least some of the equipment used in your restaurant will need to be NSF certified. To find out for sure, find out what the health codes are in your area. Whether it is required or not, using NSF equipment ensures a high standard of safety and functionality.

Is CE the same as NSF?

The CE mark or Conformitè Europëenne mark applies to kitchen products that are in compliance with standards set in place by the European Union. NSF is a general, nationally-accepted certification for food equipment standards in North America.

Is ETL equivalent to NSF?

Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL) listing is considered interchangeable to NSF certification. Both ETL and NSF are founded on standardized sanitation practices. Likewise, both are widely used in North America. And, all of the guidelines outlined in NSF standards are examined in the ETL listing process and vise versa.

Why do so many restaurants fail?

There are many reasons why a restaurant might fail. According to a study published in the International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism here are the factors that contributed to restaurant failure from 2007-2013.

  • Number of health code violations
  • Economic recession
  • Restaurant density
  • Customer service
  • Type of cuisine

Final Thoughts

Make certain that your restaurant grand reopening takes place without a hitch. Use this restaurant equipment list to ensure that you have the hardware you need.

Keep in mind that we didn’t look at are the marketing materials, software, or food supplies you will require at relaunch.

If you need more cash flow to get your restaurant off the ground, or you want to get out of your equipment lease and into a more flexible solution, contact a restaurant working capital specialist today.

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