Stocking Your Kitchen Without Going Broke
Your food service business will only be as good as the food that you serve. This means that you will need to properly stock your kitchen so that you can provide high quality meals. Stocking your kitchen is going to be a major expense, so be prepared. Knowing what you need to buy and what your purchasing options are will help you get everything you need, without breaking the bank.
Plan your Menu
Planning your menu will help you figure out the equipment that you will need. Seems pretty basic, but a restaurant offering grilled food will need griddles; a pizza shop, a pizza oven; a deli, commercial slicers and so on. The menu items that you plan on offering are not only reliant on your restaurant's theme, but also on the size of your commercial kitchen.
Now that you know what your menu items are, it will be easier for you to figure out what equipment will be needed to make those items. Chances are that no matter what you will be making, you will need commercial refrigeration, commercial ovens, ranges, griddles, fryers or steamers. You will also need work tables for food prep, commercial sinks, and dishwashing equipment in order to set up your commercial kitchen.
Keep in mind that you will need a kitchen large enough to prepare the food you plan on offering. If your kitchen space is too small, this will limit your food making abilities; if your kitchen space is too large, you may be wasting space. Plan the size of your kitchen accordingly. This will help you determine the equipment you can purchase to fit comfortably in the space.
Cookware and utensils are also an important component of a commercial kitchen. Depending on your menu items, you will need to choose what type of cookware you will need. These choices may be based on availability, such as buying the used cookware from a regoing out of business, or you can purchase the cookware you prefer, such as cast iron cookware or stainless steel cookware. There are many choices in cookware, and you will need to understand what will works best for the items you want to cook.
Kitchen utensils tend to be more universal than equipment or cookware. You will always need knives, cutting boards,food portioners, tongs, turners and spatulas, and more. Kitchen utensils can usually be purchased by the dozen or half dozen from restaurant supply stores at discounted prices, so that you can have enough utensils for your staff to prepare and cook all the items on your menu throughout the day, without having to constantly wash them.
Perhaps less costly than your other purchasing requirements, but also important, are staff uniforms for each staff member. You should choose good quality, matching uniforms that will last under tough kitchen conditions. You will need uniforms for the chefs, kitchen staff, and the wait staff. Uniforms will add a sense of professionalism and pride to your restaurant, as well as camaraderie, especially if they are kept as clean and neat as possible.
Making Your Purchases
Now that you know what you need, you can move on to making your purchases. Your budget will determine the bulk of your purchasing options. If you have generous investors who want to create an amazing restaurant with brand new commercial kitchen equipment, then you will need to search for the best options for discounts, delivery and warranties on new equipment. If you are going it alone, rather than purchase, you may want to lease large equipment. This will save you upfront costs and give you more flexibility when making the rest of your purchases.
There are also commercial retail discount stores that you can make your purchases from. Many times, these stores will include items that are 'out of style' or slightly dented or damaged, and are no longer carried in the retail stores. This merchandise often includes warranties, giving you added security.
If you are operating on a smaller budget, you can choose to purchase second hand equipment and supplies. Perhaps you can locate a restaurant that is going out of business. You may be able to purchase their used equipment and cookware for a much lower price than you would pay retail. You may not get the option of a warranty, but the cost difference may be well worth it. You may be able to purchase maintenance coverage from a third party to help you protect your investment.
As you can see, properly stocking your commercial kitchen is a huge endeavor and investment and one that will help you be successful in your food venture.