Purchasing used restaurant equipment: Make sure saving money doesn’t make you lose sleep


Restaurant kitchen equipment – stoves, refrigerators, fryers, ovens, exhaust systems, etc. – is a major expense, both for existing and wannabe restaurant owners. An auction of used restaurant equipment is likely to draw dozens of bidders. “Restaurant equipment” is one of eBay’s top search terms. When a restaurant appears to close, the identified owner fields a barrage of callers asking if the equipment is for sale.


The main reason used restaurant equipment is so popular is because new equipment is very expensive. But even restaurateurs with deep pockets might show up at an auction for specific high quality equipment that retains its value or has a specific feature that is no longer offered on new equipment. In some cases, bidders will pay more for a vintage version than they would for a new version.


Missteps are easy in the world of used restaurant equipment. Read on for tips to navigate those strange lands.


Check with a commercial restaurant supply company. Many of them sell used equipment and will offer a limited warranty. Plus they’ve checked out the equipment so you’re not buying blind.


Become a sleuth. It can be fairly easy to get in touch with a previous owner, even if you buy at auction. Researching service history and OEM parts policy (did the previous owner insist on OEM parts?) will pay off when you take over service responsibility for the piece of equipment.


Not all used equipment is created equal. Some used equipment may not be a good investment. Commercial exhaust fans and hoods have usually been customized for a previous owner. The patching, welding and cutting needing to install it in your space add extra cost to those items. An exhaust fan has to be installed in order to check if it’s operational. If it’s not, a service call and repairs are required.


There may be some wiggle room. Except for auctions, where the top bid is the price, you may be able to haggle with an owner who is selling restaurant equipment. Polite and sincere is the way to go here. Don’t insult the quality or condition of the piece you’re interested in. Nobody likes that guy.


Are you ready to give it a shot? Opening a restaurant, that is. It’s not for the fainthearted – long hours, cranky customers and a line cook who calls in sick a half hour before the dinner rush. But the joy your secret barbecue sauce recipe gives the world is worth the effort. Put your best foot forward and venture into the world of used restaurant equipment. And remember, 24/7 Restaurant Parts is here for you.