Surviving on a Shoestring: Shopping for Restaurant Equipment in a Slow Market


Furnishing and opening a food establishment in our recovering economy can often seem like an intimidating and costly process. When it comes to outfitting your kitchen, spending a little time scheduling your purchase plan can help you get your hands on quality equipment for a great price. Consider the following tips as you move forward in purchasing equipment for your restaurant:

Buy Off-Season

Just as you would expect to find a better deal on winter coats in the springtime, such is the case with a large amount of commercial equipment. For example, buying an ice machine in the hot summer months will most likely cost you more than it would in December or January. Purchasing a grill in the winter will save you a few dollars as well. Follow the rule: when demand is low, prices are better. Here are a few pieces of equipment that you can expect to find at lower prices in the colder months:

Purchase in December

If you are looking to purchase equipment that includes a tax rebate, such as energy saving appliances, it is ideal to make your purchase in December. Cash in when tax season is right around the corner and you can expect to get your rebate returned in a matter of weeks as opposed to purchasing earlier in the year and waiting for months to get that cash back in your pocket. If you are running on a tight budget, this approach is a great way to plan your larger expenses so you can receive kick-backs as soon as possible.

It is also important to note that major retailers often discount appliances at the end of their fiscal year . For many, this deadline hits between December and January, adding further to the appeal of shopping in December.

Buy Used Equipment

Purchasing lightly-used equipment is a guaranteed way to save money in start-up costs, although it does come with some risks. Taking this route will most likely mean that the equipment purchased will not be under warranty but this is a risk many are willing to take in order to meet commercial kitchen needs. Gas ranges, ovens and fryers have a relatively long-life span, so purchasing these pieces used is a safe bet. However, they also receive a lot of wear and tear and any upkeep will have to come out of your pocket. Steam tables are solidly built, making them highly durable and able to withstand years of use.

Be aware, though, that sometimes the cost of repairs or refurbishing a used piece of equipment can quickly add up to the cost of purchasing a new machine outright, which may be the more reliable choice in the long-term.

Keeping overhead low without sacrificing quality is a common goal for most food establishments in a bad economic climate. By purchasing off-season, taking advantage of December deals and considering quality used equipment, you’ll be able to save more and stress less in the cost department.


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