Restaurant kitchens have to work hard and can be expensive to equip, so you want to be sure you have the correct equipment for the menus you plan to offer. Research the reliability of equipment you are considering and check the guarantees and the service plans available. You can also lease equipment for free from some suppliers if you buy their products, this includes coffee makers, ice-cream makers and drink coolers.
Here are some suggestions to help you buy the right type of commercial kitchen equipment.
Refrigerators, coolers and freezers are the most integral pieces of a restaurant’s equipment. The amount of storage you need will depend on your regular stock purchases and how many customers you serve which should be considered when planning the restaurant layout. Restaurant freezers are not suitable for creating ice, so consider leasing an ice making machine.
The most common restaurant freezer is a blast chiller which cools food to a low temperature to prevent ice crystals forming in the food when frozen – essential for storing pre-prepared meals and desserts. Others include under-counter freezers, ice cream cabinets and commercial chest freezers. Reach-in refrigerators, coolers and freezers stand upright and have capacity measured in cubic feet, available in all sizes. These are best kept away from the heated line of cooking. If you have a lot of items that are perishable and take up space, a walk-in freezer may be more suitable.
Restaurant refrigeration drawers are commonly referred to as fish-drawers and are used for meat and fish. These are a great choice for smaller restaurant kitchens and are designed to be installed directly in the cooking line, near the grill and sauté stations.
For restaurants preparing pizzas, a refrigerated prep tables is also designed to use directly in the cooking line or preparation area and keep foods fresh with cold rails or cold storage wells. Drawers under the counter provide additional cold storage. Merchandising refrigeration units have a clear glass front door, designed to display foods or beverages, particularly good for restaurants offering a take-out service or to show diners a selection of menu offerings.
Stoves and ranges
Before looking at stoves and ranges, consider how many burners versus griddle space, etc. you might need as your menu may be better served with open burners on a stove, with a griddle or griddle top. There are a large number of options and configurations to choose from.
Ranges come in a variety of sizes, but you may be limited by the legal requirement for the hood to extend at least 6" beyond each piece of equipment you put under it. This is why it is so important that you measure all the dimensions in the kitchen, not just the floor space. Open gas burners are the most common stove in the industry, but you can choose electric or induction. An Even-Heat top which has a smooth surface makes it easy to move large pots around, particularly stockpots and are easy to keep clean. Griddle tops are great for eggs, burgers and anything else that doesn't need to be cooked in a pan
There are three main commercial fryers, and what works best for your restaurant will depend on your menu. Open pot fryers are affordable and easier to clean than the other main types. They are best for food types that do not produce much sediment such as French fries.
Tube fryers cost more than open pot fryers and are difficult to clean, but if you are frying items like fried chicken, a tube fryer is a necessary investment for heavily battered items. Flat bottom fryers are perfect for delicate items like tortilla chips and doughnuts. The size of your kitchen is fixed, so make sure you know exactly how much available space you have, as buying the wrong size can prove an expensive mistake. Fryers should be placed in the safest area in the kitchen, they need to go where there is the lowest risk of them being a hazard to employees.
Broilers and char-broilers
Broilers cook food on one side at extremely high temperatures. The most common broiler in a commercial kitchen is the charbroiler, the indoor version of an outdoor grill. Charbroilers are a popular way to prepare meats, particularly steaks, but are also used to roast peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables.
Radiant gas broilers are most commonly found in restaurants, but there are also lava rock charbroilers that add a distinct flavour to foods prepared through the grease that drips onto the rocks which creates smoke to flavour the food. If you have an open kitchen, a wood fired broiler is a good centrepiece and infuses the food with the wooden smoke.