Selecting the right pieces of restaurant equipment or the right kitchen supplies isn’t always the easiest thing to do. With so many varieties of so many different brand names of cooking equipment, for example, finding the perfect piece can often feel like being dropped into the middle of the ocean without a raft. Here are a few tips to consider when purchasing new equipment and supplies for your restaurant or bar that can act as your life raft.
Think About Your Menu
When selecting a piece of equipment, a smallware, or supplies, rather than thinking about the pressing need for it (i.e. “We need a charbroiler for steaks”), think about the other applications that a piece could have on your menu. For example, if on top of your cheese melting needs, you have lots of menu items that require browning or finishing, a salamander or cheesemelter would work wonders. Or, a heavy duty commercial blender could be perfect for making dressings, sauces or salsas, and could easily replace a stick blender, or if chopping is a big necessity, even a food processor.
Consider the Space Available
Space is extremely important when selecting a piece of equipment, or some supplies. Precise measurements should be taken and other purchases or movement within your kitchen or bar space should be examined as well. Sure you could get that broiler that is an extra 24” wide, but will it fit in the space the old one did? If not, could you move some things around and make it work, or are you just trying to stuff 10 lbs. of potatoes into a 5 lbs. bag? Or in the case of supplies, storage is incredibly important. Will three more stock pots fit on that already cluttered overhead pot rack? Stick to what is needed, unless you have the extra space for back ups.
Stop Being a Pack Rat
Sometimes, you just need to say goodbye to things in your kitchen. You don’t necessarily have to throw a piece in the garbage, as most used equipment has resale value, and can be put back into the new purchases you are making, but when a piece of equipment or supply has exhausted its usefulness to your business, it is time to send it on its way. This is especially the case with smallwares. Old smallwares still take up storage space, so you need to ask yourself if it is really worth keeping four half melted rubber scrapers as “backups”.
When it comes to getting the low down on new brands, or equipment, sometimes your enemy can be your friend (in a matter of speaking). People working or managing other kitchens have hands experience with equipment, and not necessarily the same kinds as your kitchen has. You can find out both pro’s and con’s from asking around, and it never hurts to know which brands to steer away from when shopping.
Plan for the Long Term
It is always best to take longevity into account when shopping. Is this piece you are purchasing something that is easily replaceable, or is it is just a temporary solution? For purchases like these, economy models can be sufficient. However, when dealing with high stress equipment that needs to last (let’s say a griddle for a 24/7 diner), or other large purchases, usually heavy duty is the way to go to prolong the life of the equipment and reduce the need for another large purchase in the near future.