Historians place George Washington himself at a cookout all the way back in 1769 when he wrote in his journal, “Went into Alexandria to a barbecue and stayed all night.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt, meanwhile, once memorably served hot dogs to the King and Queen of England. Continue reading Starting a Barbecue Restaurant? Read This First
Restaurant flatware is part and parcel of your business, whether you are a restaurant, fast-food, catering business or even a food truck business. After all, you are serving people meals and they will need the necessary flatware, whether these are made of sterling silver, stainless steel or plastic.
You need to make the right choice of restaurant flatware, as part of your aim to provide a satisfying dining experience for your customers.
Flatware Shopping List
Here are some of the flatware choices you need, depending on the kind of food and level of service you offer:
- Casual meals (breakfast or lunch). For each table setting, you will need a butter knife, dinner fork, dinner knife and teaspoon.
- Casual brunch set-ups will require a wide number of dinner forks, salad forks and teaspoon.
- This will usually require a salad fork, dinner fork and knife, a teaspoon and butter knife.
- Formal dinner. Aside from the flatware found in a basic dinner, a formal dinner setting will have an additional soupspoon and dessert fork. It may also include a fish fork where applicable.
- European dinner. Generally used for more formal dinners, this entails the use of European-sized flatware (which is about three times larger and heavier than its U.S. counterparts). A European dinner setting will have European-sized flatware (i.e. dinner fork and knife).
Some Purchasing Considerations
Below are some of the things to look into when making your purchasing choice for restaurant flatware:
- The best bet for buying flatware will be to use simple patterns, whether you want a modern or a classic look. A simple design can more easily match and complement the rest of your ensemble (dinner plates, glasses and bowls).
- Type of steel. Stainless steel is usually classified as 18/10 or 18/0. The first number refers to the steel’s chromium content while the second number refers to the steel’s nickel content. 18/10 refers to steel that contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel. It is more expensive but provides a brighter sheen as well as more protection against erosion, rusting and staining.
- Weight of the flatware. The weight of your chosen flatware can indicate their quality. The lighter flatware is generally more affordable since heavier flatware will require more material. The heavier flatware is more durable, since it does not easily bend or get out of shape with continued use. When making your choice, aim for a balance between ease of use and weight.
- Ambiance and overall dining experience. What overall look and feel are you going for in your restaurant? This is an important factor when choosing your purchases. If you have a fine dining restaurant, it is best to invest in good, solid flatware that exudes a classy look and feel. If you have a casual dining restaurant with a quick turnover of traffic (i.e. diners and fast food restaurants), it is best to choose flatware with a lighter weight class. High traffic restaurants usually lose a lot of their flatware during the busy hours where these can inadvertently be thrown into the bin. (Incidentally, install magnetic strips on the opening of the bins so that any metal going through can be rescued from ending up in waste disposal.
- Buy based on your volume requirements. You need to make provisions to ensure that you have enough flatware, especially during busy hours. You should allow for enough flatware to be used (based on your maximum capacity) plus an allowance for flatware that is being washed. You should also consider your turnover rate (how fast you are able to turn tables) and your dishwashing capacity.
Restaurant seating is among the important decisions you need to make as a restaurant owner. Your choice of seating is actually a key factor in the success of your restaurant. With the right choice of seating, you can present your customers with an enjoyable and comfortable dining experience, a positive experience that will keep them coming back to your restaurant.
Here are some considerations for choosing restaurant seating in your home:
Restaurant brand and image. What kind of brand and image would you like the restaurant to have – a casual family restaurant, a posh and exclusive restaurant or a fun and eclectic restaurant serving fusion food? Your choice of seating will depend on how you would like your customers to see you.
Available space. How much space do you have available? Trying to cram too many tables and chairs will just result in a negative experience. People would like to relax and chat while they are dining. When the tables are too close to each other, this will be virtually impossible. You need to maximize the available space you have so as to ensure maximum profitability without sacrificing the diner’s comfort.
Local government regulations. The layout and capacity of the restaurant will also need to comply with local government regulations, such as occupancy limits. Regulations may also include providing access for customers on wheelchairs.
Flow of traffic. The flow of traffic from the kitchen, to the dining room and to the specific tables need to be free and clear, especially for servers who are carrying wide trays that may contain hot meals and liquids.
Your budget. Restaurant furniture will be one of the biggest start-up or renovation expenses you will have. You may want swanky seating but this will also depend on whether you are able to afford it and still have enough left over for your other start-up/renovation expenses as well as your operating expenses.
Maintenance and ease of cleaning. How easy is it to clean the chairs? At best, you need to go for low-maintenance materials that you can easily wipe clean. If you would like seating with plush fabric, you can also treat the fabric with water-proofing and stain resister. Remember, since this is a restaurant, the chairs will be vulnerable to spillage and staining. Also, keep the design simple, with minimal crevices and spots that can make it hard to clean.
Durability. Your choice of seating should be commercial-grade chairs – this is more expensive but will also be more durable.
After you have listed down these considerations, you can now start choosing the restaurant seating. Here are some of the choices:
- Long straight length booth seating. This is seating that runs across one side of the wall. Tables are arranged along the seating and additional chairs are placed at the other side. This maximizes your floor space since the diners can just scoot over to take a seat on the long booth. You save on the space that would have been needed for the diners to take a seat on one side of the table. The long seats are also comfortable. Depending on the branding and level of comfort you want, you can add piping or fluted designs.
- Back to back booth seating. These feature two benches with an upholstered back that divides the benches to give the diners some privacy.
- Communal tables. This is usually for casual dining restaurants and is a new trend in restaurant seating. These feature long tables with movable chairs or stools so that it is easy to configure depending on the number of diners in a group. This means that the diners will also need to share the table with other diners.
- Seating for young customers. To be a family-friendly restaurant, you also need to invest in restaurant high chairs and booster seats. These seats offer comfort and extra height for toddlers and children and can also minimize falls and slips.
A well-equipped kitchen is an efficient kitchen. While you already have your major restaurant equipment such as ovens and refrigerators, you may need a set of countertop equipment that will help streamline the preparation process and also enable you to offer specific menu items.
Here’s the lowdown of wholesale restaurant equipment you may need for your restaurant business:
Blenders and mixers. Tabletop blenders are versatile tools in making soups and smoothies. When getting a blender, make sure to choose a commercial blender with plenty of space to accommodate the volume demands of your kitchen. There are also handheld blenders that you can use directly onto the contents of a cooking pot. Meanwhile, planetary mixers are mixers where the bowl rotates around the mixing apparatus and ensure thorough mixing of ingredients.
Cutters and slicers. Produce uniform cuts and slices in no time. There are tools that are designed for a specific function (such as chopping a large volume of onions or garlic or producing wedges or fries). There are also “cutting systems” that are versatile and can produce a wide variety of cuts that you need for garnishes and side dishes.
Coffee and tea-making equipment. Cap your customer’s meal with a warm, aromatic cup of coffee or tea. Get a coffee percolator and tea brewer that allow you to serve your customers during rush hour. You can also consider getting an espresso machine to serve more coffee drinks such as lattes and café americanos. Other accessories you need will be a coffee grinder, coffee or tea dispensers, teapots, as well as creamer and sugar containers.
Food scales. You will need a receiving scale to weigh deliveries that come to your storage area. In addition, you can equip prep tables in the kitchen with food scales so that your serving sizes are consistent. There are also scales that weigh the ingredients prior to cooking for portion control purposes. When using food scales, be sure that there are policies and procedures in place that ensure that raw ingredients and cooked ingredients are weighed in their respective scales so as to prevent cross-contamination.
Pancake, crepe and waffle makers. For breakfast and dessert menu items, equip your kitchen with countertop machines that help you prepare and cook pancakes, crepes and waffles. There are double waffle units for faster waffle-making for those who are caught in the breakfast rush. You will also need a pancake dispenser.
Condiment stand and dispensers. This allows customers to add condiments such as ketchup, pepper and mustard. You can organize ketchup or sugar packets as well as salt and pepper shakers. You can also have a condiment stand in the kitchen or sandwich preparation areas.
Meat grinder and slicer. For hamburgers and sausages, you need a meat grinder to evenly and thoroughly grind meat. For sandwiches dishes that need thin slices of meat, you need a meat slicer.
Rice cooker. Rice cookers are very versatile cooking tools. Aside from plain rice, you can prepare special rice for sushi and beans. These can also serve as a steamer since some units come with an attachable pan for steaming purposes.
Vacuum pack machine. During downtimes, kitchen staff can already weigh and cut ingredients into portion sizes and pack these using a vacuum pack machine prior to putting into the freezer. This cuts down on serving time, since the smaller portions are easier to thaw and prepare. You can also vacuum pack extra ingredients to lengthen the shelf life of the ingredients.
These are just some of the countertop equipment you can get for your restaurant kitchen, depending on your menu, preparation processes and countertop space.
There are people who simply cannot go through the day without a cup (or two or three) of coffee. Even when there a number of coffee-making tools one can have at home, people still flock to coffee shops for the convenience of having coffee to go or for the breadth of choices and the coffee-making expertise of baristas. Coffee shops are also great for meeting with a friend or simply relaxing with a good book.
That’s why a coffee shop is a good business idea. With well-considered business strategies, you can build a thriving coffee or espresso shop. To start, here are some restaurant supplies and equipment you will need:
- Drip coffee machine. Get a machine based on the expected volume of drip coffee orders. There are airpot coffee machines that have single or double brewers.
- Espresso machine. An espresso machine is a must-have in any coffee shop. The espresso machine shoots hot water into the coffee beans to produce not just espresso shots but also other coffee menu items such as americanos, lattes and café mochas. Depending on the level of production you expect, you can choose from among three basic kinds of machines – semi-automatic, automatic and super-automatic. When choosing an espresso machine, check that the boiler capacity is able to meet the expected volume of production you need. This way, you will have a continuous supply of hot water or steam during rush hours.
- Water softener. This is installed in the water pipeline connected to the espresso machine. This filters the lime and minerals in the water to prevent mineral buildup. When there is buildup and clogging in the espresso machine pipeline, you will need to have the machine disassembled and de-limed. Of course, there will be times when de-liming is necessary but a water softener will minimize this.
- A number of grinders. Choose a commercial-grade grinder, since you will need to grind a high volume of beans in a day and will need a powerful motor that will gently but effective grind the beans without heating up the beans and making them lose their flavor. Another consideration should be the number of settings it has, that is, its ability to produce coffee grounds needed for various coffee-making equipment such as French presses, espresso machines or drip coffee machines. You need more than one coffee grinder, depending on the number of flavored coffee items in your menu. This prevents the flavors from the various kinds of coffee from mixing. At the very least, you need a separate grinder for espresso.
- Coffee mugs and related supplies. Infuse your own brand of personality to your coffee shop, starting with your choice of coffee mugs. You can go the quirky or classic route, depending on your target market. You should also have your own set of disposables that bear your coffee shop’s logo and name.
- Display cases. Increase your sale per customer by offering cakes, muffins, cookies, pastries and sandwiches that are enticingly displayed where your customers can see them. There are countertop pastry cases and refrigerated standalone display cases. It is best to get a separate case for items that need to be refrigerated and items that need to be kept just at room temperature.
- Sandwich prep unit and Panini grill. The sandwich prep unit contains compartments for sandwich ingredients (meats, vegetables and condiments) that need refrigeration plus a workspace where you can assemble the sandwiches. Serve these sandwiches with those distinctive grill marks using a Panini grill. Get a double plate grill if you want to make up to four orders at any one time.
- Blender and ice maker. This allows you to serve more cold coffee drinks such as cold brewed coffees, frappes, and fruit shakes. And if you do want to serve iced drinks, make sure to include an ice maker in your order form. Again, buy a machine based on your expected volume.
Outfitting your restaurant kitchen can be a challenge. You need to strike the proper balance between your budget and ensuring the quality of the wholesale restaurant equipment you buy. Big-ticket commercial kitchen equipment such as ovens and cookers can run to thousands of dollars. Thus, you need to carefully do you research before buying a major piece of equipment.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you are in the market for restaurant equipment:
– Determine what you need based on your menu. Your menu will be a big factor in your choice of restaurant equipment. If you already have existing equipment, make an inventory of their condition and their role in the production of the menu items. Determine why you need new restaurant equipment – is this to replace old equipment or to address a need for equipment in order to produce new items in the menu?
When performing your research, look into the following:
– Size, layout and hook-ups in your kitchen. Will the new equipment fit in the kitchen? How? Is this the ideal layout, considering the flow of your operations? You also need to take a look at electrical, water and gas hook-ups, if these are required in the equipment. It will be too bad to purchase an equipment only to find out that the configuration of your kitchen will not accommodate it.
– Production demands. How big of an equipment do you need, based on how much you need to produce at a given time? For dishes that use a particular equipment, what is the current level of demand? Are you expecting this demand to rise or fall in the near future? Are you adding items in your menu that will require the use of the said equipment?
– Government requirements. Are there government rules and regulations that you need to take into consideration? All your choices should be filtered through these requirements. This way, you make sure that your purchase is compliant with any local codes. Be on the lookout for the blue National Sanitation Foundation sticker, which signifies that the equipment has been approved for use in a restaurant kitchen.
– Research brands and specific models. Once you have a clear picture of your requirements, you can now look at restaurant equipment manufacturers and what they have to offer to address your equipment requirements. Take a careful look at the equipment’s specifications
– Solicit reviews from peers. Fellow restaurateurs can provide you with insights on their practical experience with a certain piece of equipment. Another way to get reviews is to look at videos of the products and its comment sections.
– Aim for value for money. Sticking to your budget is important, especially if you only have limited resources from which to draw your expenses. If you overshoot your equipment budget, the rest of your business operations will be affected. And remember, you are in the restaurant business for profit, so you have to protect your bottom line. The goal is to get the best quality in terms of efficiency, performance, durability and reliability.
– Go for green equipment. Aiming for value for money can also mean looking at opportunities for long term savings. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified equipment, which may involve a higher acquisition cost but can mean significant savings on utility costs in the long run. Also, some states provide tax benefits for business that use energy-efficient equipment in its operations.
– Ask about the manufacturer, as well as its warranty and after-purchase service. What reputation does the manufacturer have in the food service industry? What kind of warranty and after-purchase service does the manufacturer offer? You may be getting a bargain from the front end only to lose out when the equipment breaks down and you are faced with astronomical repair costs.
– Inspect the equipment. Once the equipment has been delivered to your restaurant, have a careful check before you sign for it. Check that all the parts are there. Look for signs of structural damage such as loose fittings and dents. Have a test run of the equipment to see that it is working.
Does being eco-friendly also mean more profits for a restaurant? We would like to stress that being kind to the environment is a profit in itself and is something that every one of us should be involved with. However, if you do it right, running a “green restaurant” can actually mean hefty savings. Plus, you may be qualified to avail of tax credits or other government-sponsored incentives.
So how do you start? Here are some tips to help you run a green commercial kitchen and restaurant:
- Invest in ENERGY STAR ® restaurant equipment. One hallmark of a green restaurant is its commitment to the wise use of resources such as electricity. ENERGY STAR ® certified restaurant equipment are more energy efficient because they minimize excess heat and the unnecessary use of water. The good news is that some states often have a rebate program for restaurants that get this type of equipment.
- Commit to buying sustainable food. There are producers that actively practice sustainable farming methods. This refers to a conscious effort to grow produce and agricultural products while minimizing the negative impact on the ecosystem. This also involves growing their products organically so as to minimize the pollution caused by fertilizers and pesticides. If you can, go with local sources, since these produce a smaller carbon footprint when it comes to transporting the goods.
- Get your customers involved. Going green is a great PR strategy to reach your customers. Get them involved with your campaign in various areas. Encourage water conservation on washrooms. Promote menu items that use local ingredients for your customers to be more aware about supporting local food producers. Let your customers know that you are using recycled paper products for takeout items. Or, you can have a recycling program where customers get points or discounts when they bring their own takeout container or when they return the empty containers for recycling. This establishes a stronger relationship with your customer and encourages them to come back to your restaurant more often!
- Minimize the waste produced. Or at least, produce waste that can be recycled. This is an advantage when you are also working with “green” vendors that work to minimize the amount of packaging they use for their products or do their best to use recycled paper packaging. You can also do the same for your take-out containers.
- Implement energy saving practices. Make going green a way of life for everyone in your restaurant. These include:
- Educating your staff. Developing a “green” mindset will help the staff become more proactive in using resources such as water and electricity. Simple acts such as making a habit of closing the doors to the refrigerator or shutting down electronic appliances that are not in use will make a big difference on your utility bills.
- Installing eco-friendly devices. Yes, this can mean a hefty investment on your part, but the long term savings and the environmental benefits are well worth it. You can install LED lighting in place of conventional light bulbs or install low flow toilets and waterless urinals.
- Use green cleaners. Instead of conventional cleaners that have harsh chemicals, use dishwashing soap and cleaning agents that are gentler to the environment.
Smoothie bars provide an excellent opportunity for restaurants and cafes who are thinking of adding to their range of food offerings. In fact, as people are becoming more health-conscious, we can find standalone fresh juice and smoothie bars popping up and thriving.
Smoothies provide a good mark-up which makes them an excellent profit center. This is really a case of offering customers what is good for them will also be good for your bottom-line. If you have decided to be a “smoothie operator”, here are some wholesale restaurant equipment to help you get started:
Blender. This is the star of your smoothie operation’s commercial kitchenware lineup. Ideally, you should get more than one of these. This allows you to create drinks that include the pulp and fibers, as well as incorporating additional nutritious ingredients. Look for a heavy-duty commercial blender that is able to quickly process ice, as well as frozen fruits. Choose one that holds a high-powered motor (at least 500 watts) so that it can effectively create flavorful smoothies with excellent texture. Additional features you should look for would be a solid, stable base (to avoid accidents), touch pad controls (for easier operation) and a durable glass pitcher.
Juicer. Make fresh juice right off the fruit to serve or to add to your smoothies. To make the most out of your fruits and vegetables, go for a twin gear or triturating juicer. This type of juicer efficiently squeezes out, not just the juice, but also the maximum nutrients. Aside from a “regular” juicer, you can also consider specialized juicers, which are designed for a specific type of produce. Some examples include:
- Sugar care juicer. Provide healthier organic sweetener from freshly squeezed sugar cane so that you can have a no-sugar policy for your smoothies and juices.
- Citrus juicer. This is specifically designed to extract the juice from limes, lemons and other citrus fruit.
- Wheatgrass juicer. The “regular” juicer will not be able to extract juice from wheatgrass. This extracts the nutrients and goodness of wheatgrass.
Immersion blender. This hand-held blender will help you provide a smoother texture for smaller ingredients. You can easily prep these by using an immersion blender before you mix it into the other ingredients. This is also one way for you to make toppings.
Ice machines. You will need a constant supply of ice. Rather than ordering this and worrying about on-time delivery and storage, why not have a high-production ice machine that you can use not just for your smoothies but also for your cold drinks? Choose an ice machine that produces crushed or flaked ice, which is ideal for making smoothies.
Measuring spoons and cups. Take the guesswork off your smoothie recipes by using measuring spoons and cups. This way, your smoothies have a consistent taste.
Refrigerator and freezer. Keep fruits and vegetables fresher, longer with a refrigerator. You may also need an undercounter refrigerator in the prep area to make the operation run more smoothly. Meanwhile, a freezer will store the frozen fruits you buy by bulk. Frozen fruits result in better-tasting smoothies than fresh fruits and are also more cost-effective.
Knives and cutting boards. A reliable kitchen knife will help you cut, chop and dice fruits and vegetables while a smaller paring knife will help you peel the inedible skins off smaller fruits. For cutting boards, choose those that are easy to clean and that will not unnecessarily damage the knives with their hard surface.
Glasses and other drinking accessories. Aside from the glasses, some of the wholesale restaurant supplies you will need will be straws (both the “bendy” straws and the jumbo straws), festive stirrers and umbrellas. If you are planning on making your smoothies available to go, add plastic tumblers on your shopping list.
Starting a restaurant business can be both exciting and scary. It is exciting as you see your ideas take shape and as you slowly accumulate the restaurant equipment and supplies you need. It can also be scary in that completing the required equipment will be no small feat. For one, buying equipment for a restaurant will mean a huge capital outlay.
As a wise entrepreneur and restaurateur, there are actually some things you can do to save up on restaurant equipment costs. Here are some suggestions:
- Think about getting second hand. This takes careful consideration as not all second hand equipment would turn out to be great buys. Generally, if you need to pay three-fourths the price of new equipment for second hand ones, it is better to go that extra financial distance to buy a new one. Buying second hand equipment will also require some research and due diligence from you to check areas such as warranties (Is the warranty still effective?), general condition (How well maintained are the equipment?) and fit for your restaurant’s requirements (Do you really need a battery of four fryers or getting one with only two fryers suffice?) If you do decide to buy second hand, buy from reputable sources that sell second hand restaurant equipment.
- Think long run. Go for quality of the equipment. Ask about the manufacturer’s warranty and customer after service reputation. Do not just go after savings in the present but consider future repair requirements.
- Look for ways to combine several functions into one equipment. Combi-ovens are great because these provide the functions you need without powering up more than one piece of equipment. You also get to save on precious kitchen space.
- Choose energy efficient equipment. Another way of thinking in the long run, is to get commercial kitchen equipment with energy stars. The more energy stars, the more efficient the equipment is in using energy. This means lower electricity and water bills. One piece of energy-efficient equipment can actually cut down as much as $500 to $800 every year. When this is further compounded by the number of equipment you have, think of the annual savings you can enjoy.
- Look for incentives such as rebates and tax credits. Be on the lookout for incentives offered by your local government or federal government agencies. This can come in the form of tax rebates or credits if you are able to comply with certain standards.
- Take advantage of low-interest loans. Check to see if there are government agencies that offer loans that charge low interest rates for businesses such as yours. There are also organizations that help budding entrepreneurs to build their businesses.
- Consider buying online. Lionsdeal provides restaurant owners with a wide range of restaurant equipment they can buy online. Buying online may also mean savings as the wholesale restaurant equipment website cuts down on the middle man.
- Get it right the first time. Carefully check that the equipment is what you need. Of course, there are some equipment that you can return when you discover that it does not fit your specifications. Even if you can return the equipment to its manufacturer, it can mean extra time wasted and additional shipping costs for you. Otherwise, the equipment may just end up in the warehouse until you can find a buyer for it.
Who can say no to food just off the grill? This starts with the “unhealthy” juicy steaks and burgers to more healthy fare – grilled lean meat, fish or vegetables. Grill restaurants can also grill ribs, pizzas or fish steaks.
If you plan to get serve grilled food for your restaurant or simply want to get your share of grilled food at home, here are some items you need from your wholesale restaurant supply store:
- Heavy-duty grill. The choice between gas or charcoal will depend primarily on what your kitchen can accommodate and your local government’s safety standards. When buying a grill, look for one that is sturdy and big enough for your restaurant’s needs. If you want to smoke your meats with wood chips, a lid will also be necessary.
- Condiment stand. Have all your spices and sauces in one easy-to-reach stand.
- Basting brush. Get that barbecue sauce in every nook and cranny of the meats or ribs. There are silicone basting brushes that are easy to use, heat-resistant and washable.
- Grill and meat thermometer. Know exactly how hot the grill is so that you avoid burning your food. You will also need a meat thermometer to help you determine whether the meat is done. These precision tools take out the guesswork and helps guarantee preferred results.
- Oven mitts. Keep your hands burn-free with oven mitts that allow for manual dexterity and are still heat-resistant. One option is to use a welder’s glove.
- Tongs. If you are using charcoal, you need one pair of tongs to move the coals around to distribute the heat from the coals evenly across the grill. Two more pairs would be used during cooking, one to get the raw meat from the plate to the grill and to turn the meat around. The second one will be to for sanitary purposes – getting the cooked meat ready to serve the customers. Go for locking tongs so that it is easier to grip the grilled items. For meats, avoid using a grilling fork since poking into the meat releases its juices and dries it out.
- Flippers. Flip those burger patties, fish and other fragile grill items without worrying about breaking them up. Flippers also help to ensure that these gets done just the way the customers like them. The flippers should be thin enough so that they can slide under the grill items and solid enough so that heavier items do not fall off.
- Barbecue brush. Clean your grill to minimize the food sticking into the grates. The ideal barbecue brush should be handy enough so that it can go even at the back of the grill. It should also be able to effectively clean the grill without scratching the grill’s protective coating.
- Grill tray. Choose a metallic version, which can retain the heat so that food off the grill stays deliciously warm as it goes from the grill to the kitchen and on to the customer’s plates.
- Rib rack. Make the most of your grill space by using a rib rack to stand ribs and meats vertically.