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 have 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 well prepared. Know what you need to buy and what your purchasing options are. By doing so you can get everything you need without exceeding your budget.
Plan your Menu
It may seem obvious, but if you plan your menu first, this will help you figure out the equipment that you will need. Take the time to decide on what foods you will be offering on your menu. A restaurant offering grilled food will need griddles; a pizza shop, a pizza oven; a deli, commercial slicers and so on. The menu items you offer are not only reliant on your restaurant's theme, but also on the size of your commercial kitchen. Keep in mind that you will need a kitchen large enough to prepare what you plan on offering. If your kitchen space is too small, this will limit you; if your kitchen space is too large, you may be wasting space. Plan the size of your kitchen accordingly. This will help you determine what you can purchase that will fit comfortably in the space.
Now that you know what your menu items are, it will be easier for you to figure out what equipment you will need in order to make those items. Chances are that no matter what you will be making, you will need commercial refrigeration and some type of commercial oven, range, griddle, fryer or steamer. You will also need work tables in order to set up separate food stations that will make food prep easier for your kitchen staff. You may also need to purchase or acquire items such as commercial sinks, ice machines and dishwashing equipment in order to set up your commercial kitchen.
Cookware and utensils are certainly an important component of a commercial kitchen. Again, depending on your menu items, you will need to choose what type of cookware you will need. These choices may be based on availability, meaning that you can purchase discounted cookware somewhere, or preferences, you like cast iron cookware or stainless steel cookware. There are many choices in cookware, and you will need an understanding of what works best for the items you want to cook.
Kitchen utensils tend to be more universal than equipment or cookware. You will probably 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 to prepare and cook all the items on your menu throughout the day, without having to constantly wash them. You will also need enough cookware and utensils for your whole staff.
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 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 landed generous investors who want to create an amazing restaurant with brand new commercial kitchen equipment, then you will need to search for your best options for discounts, delivery and warranties on new equipment. In this case, rather than purchase, you may want to lease large equipment. This will save you upfront costs and give you more flexibility in making all your purchases.
There are also commercial retail discount stores that you can purchase from. Many times, these stores will include items that are 'out of style' and are no longer carried in the retail stores. Often this merchandise comes with 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.