The catering industry is fast bouncing back from the Covid pandemic and, in 2022, the food and drink sector had a turnover of just under £22 million with 148,000 employees. There’s no debating that as a nation, we like to go and eat out and this means that the number of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in the catering industry is growing every year. If you’re about to open your own food service kitchen, or already have a thriving one that needs some new equipment, then there are some serious things to consider when deciding what catering equipment to purchase.
There is no question that the kitchen is the heart of your restaurant, café, hotel or other catering enterprise and the equipment that you need to run it successfully is a big investment – so one that it is worth getting right. This blog will examine some of the things you need to consider, before you buy, to help you make wise choices.
This is one of the principal considerations, and you need to know what size of budget you are working with. An established kitchen looking only to replace one or two items of equipment may be better positioned to purchase some high-end quality items, as an investment in the future of the business. A new start-up, however, that needs to completely equip an entire kitchen, might want to consider refurbished equipment or renting certain items, to keep within the available budget and then potentially look to upgrade in the future.
Also worth considering within the costs of choosing the right kitchen equipment has to be the energy efficiency of the items purchased as it isn’t cost-effective to purchase a reconditioned, old machine if the running costs will be massively higher than buying a more energy-efficient newer model. Running costs of equipment, whether new, rented or refurbished are an ongoing cost and one that needs to be budgeted for.
Safety for both staff and customers has to be the number one priority – at all times. Not only are there laws about the health and safety of food service establishments, but as an employer, you will want to know that your team and clients are properly looked after. Smaller equipment items should have non-slip handles and electrical appliances must be positioned away from water sources.
Ventilation and extraction systems must also meet legalities to ensure the safety of the kitchen, and to guarantee that fumes and gasses are safely removed, whilst clean air is pumped back into the room. Research from the FSA estimated that there are about 2.4 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the UK every year – and to prevent your kitchen from adding to this statistic, it is vitally important that your equipment is of good enough quality to ensure that food is properly cooked, chilled and stored at the right temperatures.
The type and style of food, as well as the number of people served each day or mealtime, is going to be a major contributor to the type and size of equipment that your kitchen will need. These considerations will also determine staff workflow and processes around the kitchen, all feeding into decisions about the type and size of equipment required. The best place to start when considering these particular elements would be talking to the chef. Not only will the chef be the one using the equipment, but they are likely to be the one with expert knowledge on the equipment needed, which could save you from spending money on items that you don’t actually need.
It is vitally important to have accurate measurements of your available space and any parameters that might impede on installing equipment, such as exits or the location of power supplies. It’s no good purchasing an all-singing, all-dancing cooker if it can’t physically fit into the space available. Conversely, if there’s too much space between equipment, things can fall between them or create potential trip hazards. The most obvious error that could be made with not knowing the size of your area is purchasing equipment that won’t even fit through the door into the kitchen to be installed – not a mistake you want to make. The size and capabilities of the equipment are also factors, because if the appliances aren’t capable of keeping up with the demands of your food production, they will burn out or break down, causing you costly downtime and expensive catering equipment repairs.
Commercial kitchen equipment has to be extremely robust, working continuously for hours at a time, so making sure you purchase good quality equipment is a must. If you are purchasing reconditioned equipment, make sure you know how old it is and the amount of use it has had, as you don’t want to invest in a machine – even one cheaper than full price – if it’s going to break down and be unreliable. Examine it carefully for signs of wear and tear and try to find out if there is still any warranty on it. Whether purchasing new or refurbished, make sure that you are getting equipment made by reputable brands and models that are well-reputed. The research will be worth it to make sure you invest in a robust machine. Renting some items of equipment initially could be the most cost-effective way to guarantee the quality, especially as many rental contracts also provide service and maintenance of the machines as part of the rental agreement.
As the expression, “a stitch in time saves nine” explains, it pays to think ahead and make sure that you choose equipment that is built to last and won’t need you to have to buy a replacement just a couple of years down the line. Following on from the need for quality equipment and reliable brands, buying big enough, reliable enough and high-quality enough equipment will pay off in the future. An important way to guarantee the longevity of the equipment you’re installing is to take out a service and maintenance contract to ensure that the machines you have to keep working in tip-top shape, or that worn-out parts are spotted and replaced before they break down causing inconvenient downtime.
For more information about the importance of maintaining your catering equipment, you can read our handy blog. Future-proofing your equipment is also wise and, if your business has expansion plans, you might need to purchase a bigger item than you currently need to enable the growth to happen more easily. If a new model of a commercial kitchen appliance is about to come out, it might be worth waiting to invest in the newer model that can keep you supplying into the future without an outdated machine that it is harder to maintain or buy spare parts for.
As previously mentioned, there are many laws and regulations surrounding the food production industry, and food poisoning is something you will want to avoid, to protect your business’s reputation. It may, therefore, be wise to invest in quality equipment, such as a blast chiller for keeping food at the right temperature in storage. Some items of equipment might not meet energy efficiency regulations, so researching to find out which machines will keep you on the right side of the inspectors, as well as keeping staff and customers happy, is an investment. There are also several laws regarding the safety of gas appliances and you will need a professionally trained specialist to help ensure that your kitchen meets these requirements to safeguard your team’s and customers’ health and prevent you from being shut down.
Help with buying catering equipment
If you’re about to refit or install a brand-new kitchen, or just upgrade one or two pieces of your equipment in an established commercial kitchen, then Abraxas can help. With over 25 years of experience in the catering industry, we have the qualifications and expertise to support the design, supply and installation of every type of kitchen appliance. We will happily help to design the perfect kitchen for your requirements and we supply appliances from the world’s leading manufacturers.
Get in touch today to discuss your catering kitchen equipment needs.
areas we cover
We are a company with proud roots in Worcestershire and we provide our service, maintenance and gas safe services throughout the Midlands. Our design, installation and project services are provided across the whole of the UK, take a look at the map to see just a few of the projects we have completed.
Abraxas specialise in commercial kitchen and servery counter design and the supply of commercial catering and foodservice equipment. We are a family run business based in Kidderminster, Worcestershire and employ our own engineers. We take a genuine pride in the services and products we provide to all our clients from a County Council to a small café.
We design kitchens that are efficient, well organised and cost effective, tailor-made to your needs.
Kitchen extraction is imperative for employee & customer safety and is a legal requirement.
Every installation fully project managed ensuring your kitchen complies with all necessary regulations.
Bespoke servery counters
Bespoke servery counters, working to your exact requirements and specifications.
Servicing & Maintenance
We can service, repair and maintain your catering equipment to ensure your kitchen runs efficiently.
We understand the meaning of a Gas Safe Kitchen & can make sure you meet all the necessary regulations.