5 Items Needed to Start a Restaurant

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / January 17

Items Needed to Start a Restaurant - Cleaning a restaurant table

While starting a restaurant can be a fun adventure, it also can be a stressful experience. Everything from writing up a business plan and menu to securing space and permits take plenty of time, money and resources. Aside from those big-ticket items and plans, there are other small products that are key to keep your new establishment running smoothly. Don’t let them get lost in the shuffle. Our list below gives you five essential items needed to start a restaurant from scratch.

1. Kitchen Equipment

Of course, different pieces of kitchen equipment are vital to your restaurant’s operation. What you choose depends on the type of food on your menu, but there are some general units that every restaurant should invest in:


  • Ovens – Depending on your business, you’ll need to decide on standard, convection, conveyor or pizza ovens. Some models also feature cooktops and run either off gas or electric power.

  • Combi ovens – These versatile units use not only convection and steaming but also a combination of both, letting an operator bake, broil, poach, roast, steam and warm from a single footprint.

  • Fryers – Need to whip up French fries, chicken wings or donuts? Commercial fryers allow you to make these items quickly.

  • Refrigerators & freezers – Cold storage is key for any restaurant. Make sure you find either reach-in or walk-in units that can keep different food, beverages and ingredients at a cool temperature.

  • Mixers – You can find a commercial mixer in a wide variety of sizes and models, ranging from 20-quart stand mixers to 140-quart floor models. The option you select depends on the demands of your menu or application.

  • Blenders – From soups and sauces to dressings and cocktails, you’ll need these to keep making delicious concoctions for various portions of the menu.

  • Dish & warewashers – Cleaning all your cookware and utensils is crucial. Whether it’s conveyor or door-type models, you’ll need high-capacity dishwashers or warewashers to get the job done.

  • Beverage machines – Whether it’s soda, tea or coffee, you’ll need beverage equipment that let you quickly pour drinks for customers.

  • Ice machines – Ice is a must for beverages and even select recipes. Find one or two ice machines for the back of the house.

If the cost of buying all new equipment is too expensive, remember that leasing is a cost-effective option. Instead of purchasing a used, outdated unit, leasing and renting-to-own lets you get the newest piece of equipment without the financial burden upfront. Some equipment dealers or wholesalers have flexible leasing terms, ranging from 12 to 72 months, so you can get the best possible price to suit your budget.

Check out our equipment guides for assistance

2. Apparel & Uniforms

It’s not always top of mind, but clothing is crucial to your restaurant’s operation. Having your cook and wait staff in the right attire not only helps you maintain brand standards, but it also ensures they stay safe and keep the kitchen space as sanitary as possible.

So what should you purchase ahead of time? Make sure to have plenty of gloves and aprons to protect your staff’s clothing and skin while in the kitchen. Also, different foodservice hats and hair nets are a must. Make sure to find options that cover their heads completely but are still comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Check out our selection of food service apparel

Items Needed to Start a Restaurant - Using a cutting board


3. Smallware & Tableware

Both tableware and smallware are key if you’re operating a dine-in establishment. Smallware include items in the back of the house, such as cookware, baking supplies, cutting boards, kitchen utensils, chafing dishes and serving supplies. Tableware encompasses most items in the front of the house, from tablecloths and flatware to glasses and condiment holders.

So what if you’re running a restaurant that is purely takeout or delivery? While tableware won’t be required, stock up on quality food disposables like plastic silverware, disposable cups and containers instead. For your takeout containers, look for options that can keep food warm or cold for long periods of time while the food is in route.

Check out our selection of smallware & tableware

4. Janitorial Supplies

As we mentioned above, a sanitary space is important. Your utility closet should have a wide variety of janitorial and cleaning supplies to keep both the back and front of the house pristine and ready for patrons. Many of these items are available in bulk at wholesale prices, allowing you to get a large supply at a favorable price. Below are some materials to stock up on before officially opening your doors to the public:


  • Brooms

  • Mops

  • Vacuums

  • Buckets

  • Floor cleaning solutions

  • Surface cleaners & sanitizers

  • Cleaning clothes, sponges & brushes

  • Paper towels & toilet paper

  • Hand soaps (kitchen & restrooms)

  • Trash cans & liners


Check out our selection of janitorial supplies

5. OEM Parts, Cleaners & Filters

When you organize your stockroom before launch, you should remember to reserve an area for OEM replacement parts. Each of these are crucial for conducting regular preventative maintenance on your kitchen equipment. Whether it’s gaskets for refrigeration units, thickness probes for ice machines or curtains for dishwashers, there are select OEM parts you should keep on hand for those planned tasks throughout the year.

Cleaners and filters also should be readily available in your storage room or closet. Each piece of equipment uses an OEM cleaning solution and sanitizer that are safe to use in the equipment. Units like ice machines, beverage equipment and combi ovens typically use water filters, and they need to be swapped out with new ones every few months. Your operator’s manual should provide the correct style and size needed to ensure clean, quality water is always used.

Check out our selection of OEM parts, cleaners & filters


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