You’ve decided to open your very own restaurant. With this decision comes nerves, apprehension, excitement and a fierce determination to bring your passion to life. The decision to open a restaurant sets off the first domino of decisions you’ll be making in your journey to becoming a restaurant owner.
From logistics to finance, business plans and recruitment, there’s a lot to consider before you can welcome your first customer through your doors. Taking the time to map out your processes sets the foundation, so you always make informed decisions for your business.
Deciding on restaurant equipment
Purchasing restaurant equipment is the most costly investment, aside from rent and wages. Therefore, each decision needs careful consideration to ensure you invest in the right equipment to fulfil your operational requirements.
While no two restaurants are the same and the equipment in each will differ slightly, there are several pieces of equipment that most restaurants will require.
As a starting point, we’ve narrowed down 11 areas to consider to determine that you’re investing in the most apt and cost-effective equipment for your restaurant.
- Menu and concept
- Space and size requirements
- Restaurant equipment and commercial kitchen appliances
- Storage and refrigeration
- Ordering and sequence of service
- Payment methods
- POS platform
- Health, safety and security
- Finance your equipment
- Restaurant equipment: new, used or leased
- Where to buy restaurant equipment
Menu and concept
To understand what restaurant equipment you’ll need to operate efficiently, you’ll first need to decide on your menu and concept. The details of each should be mapped out in your business plan and will provide the direction for any equipment-related decisions.
Before investing in any equipment, ask yourself the following questions:
- How extensive is your menu, and what level of preparation is required?
- Will you offer a lunch service as well as dinner?
- Will your drinks menu include cocktails as well as wine, beer and spirits?
- How many pax can you accommodate per service?
- Will you have a separate bar area?
- Will you offer table ordering and table service, or will customers order at the counter?
- What payment methods will you accept?
- Will you offer takeaway and delivery?
Restaurant equipment and commercial kitchen appliances
The next step, after finalising your menu and concept, is to list the equipment you’ll need to bring your menu to life. Here is a basic list of restaurant equipment and commercial kitchen supplies to use as a starting point:
- Ranges and ventilation
- Food processors
- Blender/ mixers
- Preparation tables
- Pots and pans
- Mixing bowls
- Cooking utensils
- Chopping boards
If your restaurant’s concept also includes a bar, you may also need the following pieces of equipment:
- Cocktail shakers
- Espresso machine
- Spirit measures and dispensers
- Free pourers
- Drip trays
- Ice trays, crushers and buckets
- Bar mats and runners
- Corkscrews and bottle openers
- Beer taps
Space and size requirements
This might seem like an obvious point, but taking the time to study your restaurant’s blueprints and measure your space is a key step in your decision-making process.
Understanding space constraints early on enables you to plan your kitchen layout and workflows as efficiently as possible. You’ll need to consider how much space staff need to prepare food as well as how much room you’ll need for equipment and appliances.
You’ll also need to measure the dimensions of new equipment to ensure it will fit through the doorways of your venue and into the kitchen.
Storage and refrigeration
Restaurants need to store large quantities of perishable and non-perishable food, and large amounts of alcohol safely and securely. With so much stock on hand, restaurants must invest in the correct equipment to store inventory at the right temperature and comply with hygiene regulations. This is what new restaurants normally purchase to meet their storage requirements:
- Industrial fridges – you’ll need a separate one for your kitchen and a range of smaller fridges for your bar
- Industrial freezer
- Ice bins
- Kitchen/ storeroom shelving units
- Storage racks
- Glass racks
- Drying racks
- Display shelves
- Storage containers
- Industrial plastic wrap
Ordering and sequence of service
Once you’ve determined what equipment you’ll need to prepare your dishes and keep your back of house in order, it’s time to examine your ordering process and sequence of service. Start by asking yourself the following question:
How will customers place their orders, and what equipment will you need to facilitate this?
In most cases, restaurants will offer one (or more) of the following order flows:
- Customers order at the counter
- Customers order at the table via a QR code and digital menu
- Table service
- Customers order via an app for collection or delivery
Whatever ordering mix you choose, you’ll need to invest in equipment and technology to facilitate your processes efficiently. Here are some popular options:
Tablets, like iPads, have been replacing traditional pen and paper methods and are a popular choice for restaurants offering table service. Tablets speed up the ordering process as they enable staff to take orders at the table and sync them straight to your point of sale (POS) system and kitchen printer. Tablets can also be used to receive and process third-party orders from delivery apps like UberEats.
A customer-facing screen allows customers to view their order as the staff key them into the POS; if something is wrong, they can notify your staff before the order is sent for production. This reduces order errors and saves on unnecessary wastage.
Table ordering apps
Table ordering apps, such as Mr Yum, provide the technology to facilitate table ordering. This allows customers to view your digital menu, order and pay in-app before syncing the order to your POS and kitchen for production.
Printers and bump screens
You’ll need to invest in printers and/or bump screens to automatically relay orders from your POS to the kitchen and bar staff.
The recent rise in digital payment technology, like Apple Pay, and a universal shift towards convenient tap and go payments has resulted in the rapid decline of cash transactions. In fact, less than 27% of Australian consumers now opt to pay with cash.
As a new restaurant owner, it’s important to examine customer behaviour to understand which payment methods you should accept and how you’ll process payments. To ease your decision, ask yourself these questions:
- Will your venue be completely cashless or have a hybrid of cash and card?
- Will you accept GooglePay and Apple Pay?
- Would you prefer your billings to go through a table ordering system (such as me&u)?
- What payment terminals and providers are compatible with your POS?
- Will you accommodate split bills?
- Can customers pay at the table via a wireless payment terminal?
- Will you give customer receipts or offer a digital version?
During a busy service speed and precision of orders are essential. Investing in a payment terminal that syncs with your POS, means your staff don’t need to manually key in every payment into the EFTPOS machine, saving time and reducing keying errors.
A restaurant POS platform is an essential tool for new restaurants. POS platforms effectively manage your ordering process and day-to-day workflows from one centralised system. But with so many options on the market, it can be daunting to pick the right one for your restaurant.
Ask the following questions to ensure you purchase the best solution for your business needs:
- Does the POS offer flexible payment solutions?
- Which EFTPOS terminals does the POS integrate with?
- Does the POS have a customer-facing screen feature?
- Does the POS have options for omnichannel ordering?
- Can the POS support my business as it grows?
- Can the POS manage inventory?
- Does the POS facilitate customer marketing & loyalty?
- Does the POS collect sales, product and employee data?
- What integrations can the POS support?
- Is onboarding, training and support included with my purchase?
- Is there a flexible contract?
Health, safety and security
With over 200 diseases spread through food, health and safety is a top priority for new restaurants. To comply with local health and safety regulations and to ensure the safety of your guests and staff, it’s important to have the appropriate cleaning and sanitation equipment. Here are some options to consider:
- A 3-compartment sink for rinsing, washing, and sanitising dishes
- Industrial cleaning products
- Trash cans
- Mops, bucket and brushes
- Wet floor signs
- Fire extinguisher and fire safety equipment
To deter crime and keep employees and customers safe, it’s important to invest in a robust security system for your restaurant. Consider purchasing security equipment such as burglar alarms and cameras that can be fitted throughout your venue and at any entrances and/or exits.
Finance your equipment
It’s estimated that an average restaurant fit-out in Australia costs between $1,800 – $3,400 per square metre. Investing in restaurant equipment is a costly undertaking and having the upfront capital isn’t always feasible.
One option to consider is taking out a business loan from one of the major banks. This is often a popular choice for new business owners, and the Australian Government’s business advice website is a good source to learn more about applying for a business loan.
Another option is to obtain funding from the federal and state governments. For example, eligible businesses in New South Wales can receive a rebate of up to $1,490 when they purchase or lease a new, eligible, plug-in commercial fridge or freezer.
Restaurant equipment: new, used or leased
Once you’ve secured funding for your restaurant equipment, you’ll have to consider if you want to purchase new, used or leased equipment.
- New equipment – the most expensive option. However, it should run like clockwork and comes with a warranty if anything goes wrong.
- Used equipment – cheaper than purchasing new, but you’ll need to carefully inspect each piece before purchasing, to ensure there’s no pre-existing damage. Used equipment is also more likely to need repairs.
- Leased equipment – cost-effective as you don’t have to invest large sums of money upfront. If equipment needs repairs, it’s not your responsibility and you can upgrade to the latest model when an existing lease ends.
Where to buy restaurant equipment
The final step before purchasing your restaurant equipment is to research where to buy it.
There are several online retailers that specialise in new restaurant equipment, so it’s important to shop around for the best deal. Here are some popular options:
You might decide that secondhand equipment is the best option for your restaurant. If so, an auction could be the best option:
Pick the right equipment for your restaurant
Opening a restaurant is a stressful process and there are a million-and-one things to consider before you can open your doors. While you’ll inevitably have a lot to think about, it’s important to take the time to plan and map out your options before making any decisions.
We hope this guide prompts you to ask the important questions before investing in any equipment and takes some pressure off your decision-making process.
We wish you all the best, and we’ll be right here to celebrate when your doors open.