What You Need to Know When Buying Used Restaurant Kitchen Equipment

One of the largest expenses to take a bite out of your restaurant’s bottom line is restaurant equipment. After you shop around for new equipment and experience sticker shock, you might start to consider buying used restaurant kitchen equipment. Used cooking, refrigeration, and other equipment designed for a commercial kitchen can often be found at close to half the cost of new kitchen equipment.

Another reason to opt for used rather than new is that secondhand equipment, much like a used car, doesn’t depreciate in value as quickly as a brand new appliance. A new piece of equipment drops drastically in value the moment it begins service.

You’ve also most likely heard that about 60% of restaurants do not survive past the first year. You may have ignored that info when you were opening your restaurant, but now that scary stat can benefit you. It means that a lot of the used commercial kitchen equipment is still like new and barely used. Find these deals online, at auctions and at just-closed establishments in your area.

Consider used restaurant supply stores that recondition and often guarantee the refurbished appliance, too. It’s also a good idea to reach out to other restauranteurs in the community to see who might be upgrading their appliances and willing to sell to you directly for less.

As you embark on shopping for used restaurant kitchen equipment, here are 10 things to keep in mind to save you unforeseen costs and even more money at purchase:

1. Be sure to ask the seller for the equipment’s history.

Was it owned by one restaurant or a few? Secondhand equipment will have a longer life than third- or fourth-hand appliances.

2. Request any service records.

These may accompany the appliance to determine if it was well-maintained or possibly even reconditioned, which will make for a more reliable purchase than an as-is piece of equipment.

3. Does it come with a current warranty that’s transferable?

If not, the deal you’re getting now could cost you more on repairs and parts down the road. Definitely take advantage of any warranty offered. The slight price increase could absolutely be worth the peace of mind.

4. You’ll also want to inspect the piece of used equipment closely.

When you’re looking it over, eyeball it for rust, discoloration, missing pieces and other damage that will clue you into how old it is and how well the last owner maintained it.

5. Inspect older models.

If you’re considering an older model, be sure it’s up to current health and safety codes.

6. Older equipment may also not be as energy efficient as newer models.

Choose appliances that are Energy Star Certified to help you curb utility costs and environmental impact.

7. Consider the equipment’s brand. 

Is it a brand that well-known for being built to last? Then it probably will. In addition, it’s easier to find replacement parts for highly regarded or popular brands.

8. Compare online. 

Shopping online seems much easier than driving around to check out equipment. However, in the end high shipping costs can change the price drastically and wipe out any savings you were counting on.

9. Measure twice and cut that check once. 

Know the exact space that this piece of equipment needs to fit into—including doorways—before buying it.

10. Applicable deductions.

Don’t forget to deduct the full purchase price of used or new equipment from your taxes with a Section 179 deduction.

If you’re looking for more cost-cutting solutions for your restaurant, consider a new kind of food distributor that can help you save up to 50% on high-quality ingredients. It’s easy to add FoodMaven to your regular orders as a complement to your current distributor.