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Ann Holtzapple

Should You Buy New or Used Restaurant Equipment?

Restaurants are always looking for new ways to conserve costs. One money-saving possibility? Buying used equipment instead of new equipment. However, while this may look like an easy choice, the reality is that used equipment may not actually be the better deal over the long run. Why? Because you could be trading a lower upfront cost for higher repair and replacement expenses in the future. Read on for a roundup of seven benefits of buying new restaurant equipment.

1. Less Maintenance

All kitchen equipment requires routine care and maintenance. Restaurant equipment is no exception. Because new equipment has no wear and tear, it requires less maintenance than older equipment. This means fewer bills from your service company.

Additionally, replacement parts for older kitchen equipment may not be easy to find and therefore may not only be more expensive, but also lead to costly and unanticipated downtime.

2. Better Performance & Reliability

While you may luck into an older piece of equipment that’s in excellent condition, there’s a much greater chance that it will have some problems. With new equipment, on the other hand, you are assured that it will perform to its optimal capabilities across performance, efficiency and productivity.

For example, a used commercial griddle may have issues with its healing element or calibration, which leads to the formation of hotspots resulting in burned menu items, food waste, and dissatisfied diners. A new griddle is highly unlikely to have these issues, but if yours does it will be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

3. Energy Savings and Rebates

Did you know you can receive rebates on ENERGY STAR® certified equipment at the time of purchase? Rebates can be up to $7,000, making a brand-new piece of equipment potentially the same price as used equipment (rebate amounts vary and are based upon location).

 Furthermore, manufacturers have made advancements in efficiency across everything from water consumption to heat loss. New steamers, fryers, convection ovens and more are more likely to come with ENERGY STAR® certification and the long-term savings that accompany this designation. Switching to a high-efficiency steam cooker, for example, can save a staggering $12,000 over its lifespan.

4. Manufacturer Warranties

Yet another thing new equipment has going for it: manufacturer’s warranties. This means if the product does fail within the warranty period, your investment will be protected.

Conversely, even if a used piece of restaurant equipment comes with a warranty, it’s likely to be extremely limited. While this protects the seller, it does nothing for you as the buyer.

5. No Surprises

There’s an inherent leap of faith involved in buying any piece of used restaurant equipment for one simple reason: There’s no way to know for sure what you’re getting. The previous owner(s) may have kept it in optimal working condition through proactive and comprehensive care and maintenance determined by the manufacturer’s guidelines, or they may have let things slide.

Furthermore, you’re at the mercy of every past operator a piece of equipment has had. If they weren’t trained properly or simply failed to adhere to proper operating procedures, unpleasant surprises may be looming in the form of an unexpected failure and costly, time-consuming repair or replacement.

6. Buy What You Need

Restaurant ownership is often the culmination of a lifelong dream. Why settle for less when bringing this dream to life? Deciding to buy used restaurant equipment means you only have access to what’s available at any given moment. Can’t find exactly what you want or need? You might have to sacrifice some features that may compromise your restaurant’s ability to attain its goals. With a new equipment purchase, meanwhile, you can order exactly what you want -- whether through a stock piece or by customizing your own.

7. Pass Health Inspections

New equipment is cleaner than used, no argument there. But new equipment will also be easier to clean on an ongoing basis. Whether it be porcelain oven interiors or coved corners, new equipment is constantly evolving with the operator in mind. And, as health standards tighten and regulations increase, there’s a chance that the piece of used equipment you’re considering isn’t even up to code.

The takeaway? While buying used restaurant equipment may mean upfront savings, the long-term can look very different. Taking the time to understand the “big picture” can help restaurant owners make the most informed and advantageous equipment purchasing decisions.


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