When buying restaurant equipment for the first time it’s best to first review your requirements for work capacity, safety, and quality but at the same time is affordable and within your budget. In this article we’ll go over equipment certifications, configuration considerations when purchasing, as well as the different types of equipment and their uses.
So let’s take a look at the most sought out equipment certifications in the U.S.
Safety & Quality
NSF– The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is probably the most commonly referenced certification in the foodservice industry in the US (with extensions to Canada as well). NSF has established a set of baseline standards to maintain sanitation requirements with regard to foodservice equipment. Through continual monitoring, testing, and the creation of new standards for equipment safety and quality they aim to help prevent food-borne illness. Manufacturers of NSF-certified products are subject to yearly evaluations to assure continued quality.
UL– The Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) is a certification agency similar to the NSF though their focus is mainly safety. Within their own facilities, the UL conducts various tests on the equipment to ensure design quality, and safety, and if approved, vendors receive certification for the equipment specified.
ETL– Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL) is branch of Intertek, which one of the worlds’ largest testing and inspection facilities. Another certification that’s also recognized by health inspectors, ETL tests manufacturing equipment to illustrate compliance with North American safety standards. Intertek is also an OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) recognized NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory).
Energy Star– The Energy Star qualification is based on standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) all in a global effort to minimize energy usage. Similar to other certifications, all products must undergo testing in order to qualify as an “Energy Star” product. Unlike the aforementioned certifications, Energy Star is NOT required, though it can help owners lower their utility bills, as well as qualify for energy tax credits.
Equipment Type & Work Capacity
Prior to purchasing any equipment be sure to go over each of your menu items and make a list of the equipment needed for its preparation. Next, take a look at your seating capacity and how many diners you can anticipate on a daily/weekly basis. Lastly, determine your storage expectations based off your menu selections. Will you need a walk-in freezer for meat selections or ice cream, or maybe an additional refrigerator for produce? Answers to these questions will aide in your equipment selection.
Ensuring Proper Equipment Configurations
We strongly recommend having qualified technicians (either your own or from your equipment vendors) to come and take a look at your facilities to ensure that your location meets the requirements for proper configuration of their equipment. Returning restaurant equipment is a hassle-and most vendors loathe product returns. So be sure to note the following:
- Electricity– Does your location have the needed electrical capacity for all of your equipment? Do you need an extra subpanel or additional outlets?
- Gas– This is one of the most important. Have your technician explain your local government’s gas hook-up requirements and what type of connection is required. Also, know how many BTUs each piece of equipment outputs and any restrictions on its usage.
- Water– Testing your water before opening to assure minimum safety pH levels. Water will be used for food preparation such as steaming, produce rinsing and blanching, hand and dishwashing, as well as a source for ice machines.
- Ventilation– Proper HVAC setup is absolutely necessary for all fryers and ovens. Requirements are set by local building and health authorities, special consideration to be taken for restaurant hoods. While most ordinances require the hood to extend about 7 inches or more from the range to ensure adequate ventilation and public safety, be sure to note the requirements of your locality. Also note that all hoods should have grease filter as well.
- Spatial Requirements– Restaurant backrooms and kitchens are full of small spaces and tight corners which can make moving industrial equipment a full-day process. Be sure to measure (or have the technician measure this) accurately and allow room for each piece of equipment to be moved into its position within the kitchen. Also, always consider replacement moves and the surrounding equipment’s mobility, as well as wall space requirements (usually 6-12 inches). Remember, kitchen setup should be so that it streamlines food preparation, or more so creates sort of a conveyor belt affect to maximize efficiency and provide optimal safety.
Let’s take a look at the many types of Commercial Restaurant Equipment Supply and Uses:
TYPES OF EQUIPMENT
Cooking (gas & electric)
- Ranges for stovetop cooking
- Ovens- Baking, Pizza, Rotisserie
- Salamanders & Cheesemelters
- Steamers: Soup, Kettle, & Countertop
- Reach-ins- Solid door or glass-door. (Top & Bottom-mounted compressor options)
- Walk-ins- Perfect for spacious storage of frozen or refrigerated goods
- Uprights- Can include ice cream or meat freezers that allow for quick access
- Back Bars- Miniature coolers used for storing chilled bar beverages
- Open Air Curtain Coolers/Freezers- Great for easy-access beverages, produce, and chilled-snacks
- Mixers & Slicers
- Blenders, Colanders, Strainers, Cheesecloths
- Food Scales for measuring meats and other ingredients
- Dough Sheeters, Rounders, and Dividers
- Meat Grinders & Food Processors
- Food warmers, Toasters, Sandwich Presses
- Pizza/Salad Prep Tables and Under-Counters
- Holding Cabinets with temp controls (available insulated or uninsulated)
- Cooking Pots, Skillets, and Pans
- Aluminum Baking Sheets and Molding Trays
- Food Probe Thermometers with digital or manual readings
- Dough Rollers, Cheese Graters, Meat Saws, Measuring Cups/Spoons, Oil Pourers, & Whisks
- Cutting Knives, Chef’s Knife (forged or stamped with high-carbon steel). Note: Forged knives have thicker, heavier blades, require less sharpening, and are generally more expensive. Stamped knives tend to be thinner, lighter and more flexible, tend to dull faster, and are less expensive than their counterparts, though they’ve become more popular with increased durability from high-end manufacturers.
- Cutting Boards, Knife Sharpeners (electric or sharpening stones)
- Stirring Spoons, Ladles, Spatulas, Carving Forks
- Dishwashers-Conveyers, double rack, under-counter. High-temp/low-temp
- Stainless Steel Sinks for rinsing and dishwashing (2 and 3-hole)
- Dishwashing Liquid and De-Limer
- Bins/Boxes with lids to house packaged, dry storage and supplies
- Food storage containers-be sure to get “BPA free” containers and those with color gradations for measuring dry goods
- Label Makers to mark all storage containers
- Hand Trucks and Dollies for transporting storage equipment and heavy inventory boxes
- Back Belts and coated-gripper gloves for staff safety when lifting and carrying heavy items
- Shelving and Racks for storage room
Food & Beverage Serving Equipment
- Coffee/Cappuccino Machines and Coffee Pots
- Milk/Cream Holders
- Juicers for quick fruit and vegetable juices
- Serving Plates, Bowls, Trays, Cups, Glasses, Pitchers, and eating Utensils
- Table Condiments (salt, pepper, butter, sauces, etc.)
- Napkins, Paper Towels
- Carryout Containers, Bags and Disposal Condiment Containers
- Brooms, Mops, Brushes, Buffers, and Dusters
- Mop Buckets, Dust Pans, Industrial Trash Cans, & Liners
- Carpet Cleaners and Accessories
- Cleaning/Drying Dish Towels & Wipes, Scrub Pads, and Holders
- Non-Slip Floor Mats and Push Carts
- Cleaning Chemicals: Including: Dishwashing Detergent Disinfectants/Germicides, De-greasers, De-limers, Furniture Polishers, Metal Cleaners, Mold/Mildew Removers, Spill/Hazard Clean-up Agents, Glass Cleaners, Laundry Detergent, Paint/Graffiti Remover, Odor Control Sprays/Air Sanitizers, & Specialty Chemicals
- A/C and Furnace Filters
- Dry/Wet Storage Racks, Containers, and Labels
- Water Hose, Window Squeegee, and Wiper Clothes
- Plastic Gloves, Shoes, Aprons, Breathing Masks, & Chemical Storage Bottles (be sure to check chemical safety requirements)
It’s always to best to make a list of every single piece of equipment and supplies that you’ll require before price checking or requesting quotes. Next, be sure to separate your equipment needs by equipment type, then create a budget for each, and again ALWAYS be sure to ask about operational requirements before placing an order.
Simply put, adequately planning for your restaurant equipment buying can make this process run smooth and easy, as oppose to stressful and chaotic.