Opening a fast-casual restaurant provides a chance to reach the millions of consumers who prefer to eat quality food but do not want to spend too much money on it or sit down to eat. Aspiring owners must invest in the right restaurant equipment if they are starting a fast-casual establishment. It may differ slightly from what would be found in fast food and dine-in restaurants.

Explore a few essential kinds of equipment every fast-casual restaurant should feature.

Considerations to Make When Choosing Restaurant Equipment

Outfitting a fast-casual establishment with the right restaurant equipment is fundamental to its success.

People should assess the size and shape of the restaurant. This way, they can come up with the best layout for the kitchen and choose equipment that will fit in it. At the same time, they should consider how specialty appliances will work alongside general items—building around them may be key.

Another two points to keep in mind include quality and price. Restaurant owners should consider the budget and how much they can spend right now on top-end pieces of equipment.  Investing in what is needed now and what will be required later may be worthwhile.

Further, think about how easy it will be for staff members to clean and maintain the equipment. Investing in appliances that take too long to scrub down or break easily will affect customer service and satisfaction. Check that everything in the kitchen is simple to use.

Cooking Equipment

Every eatery needs basic cooking equipment. Here is an array of things to include in a fast-casual restaurant:

Ovens: An array of ovens to consider include standard, convection and steam.

Stovetops: A stovetop is essential for cooking raw vegetables and meats, creating sauces and more.

Mixers and slicers: These tools will help staff members mix spreads and dough and slice meats and toppings. Using the correct blending techniques is essential for the preparation of meats. Those running bakeries should consider standing mixers.

Grills and griddles: Many establishments feature either electric or gas grills to cook menu items like chicken and hamburgers. A fast-casual breakfast restaurant should consider installing a griddle to cook pancakes, eggs and more.

Deep fryers: A deep fryer is an essential addition to fast-casual establishments that serve fried foods, such as onion rings and chicken tenders.

Food processors: Choose from a batch bowl to create one portion of food at a time, a continuous feed to make a large amount, a buffalo chopper to process a lot of vegetables or meat, or a combination processor to provide flexibility.

Ice makers: All establishments should invest in ice makers to ensure customers can order beverages with ice.

Note that the kinds of equipment restaurant owners should choose will depend on their establishment’s concept. For example, sushi eateries may not require ovens, especially when they plan to serve a limited menu of sushi and non-baked side dishes. On the other hand, pizza restaurants require pizza ovens to operate properly.

Beyond the above examples of basic equipment, restaurants must consider any special items they will need to successfully carry out their restaurant operations.

General Kitchen Equipment

Aside from cooking equipment, fast-casual establishments must organize their kitchens to provide quick service. These are several items that restaurant owners should invest in:

Range hoods: Place ventilation hoods above stovetops and ovens to help the kitchen area stay clear of fumes, smoke and grease.

Sharpening stones: Using sharp knives when slicing and chopping food items is important. A sharpening stone will help staff members sharpen their utensils so they avoid the dangers of dull blades.

Preparation counters: A fast-casual eatery must have a clean, designated spot for employees to prepare food items and orders, whether it serves salads or pub food.

Sinks: All staff members should have quick access to a sink to wash their hands and perform related tasks.

Kitchen supplies: Every restaurant kitchen should have a supply of pots, pans, trays, spatulas, tongs, serving utensils and more. Fast-casual restaurants should stock disposable containers and utensils for to-go orders.

Generally, fast-casual restaurants feature the same equipment in the kitchen as other styles of eateries.

Storage Equipment

Having dedicated areas to store food items and equipment is essential for the success of a fast-casual establishment. A disorganized atmosphere impedes how fast employees can prepare and serve food. Those who own fast-casual restaurants should consider the following options:

Racks and shelves: Outfit the kitchen area with racks, shelves and other storage spots where staff members can organize products.

Containers: Choose designated containers for different materials. For example, select a few of the same ones to hold sauce packets. Label them accordingly.

Refrigerators and freezers: A fast-casual restaurant requires a place to store perishable food items. Make sure to follow food safety codes and choose an arrangement that works for how much and the kind of dishes served.

Miscellaneous Equipment

A handful of other kitchen equipment is necessary for setting up fast-casual restaurants. These items and devices include:

Safety equipment: Outfit the eatery with the proper safety equipment according to state and federal regulations. These items often include first-aid kits and fire extinguishers.

Point of sale system: Every restaurant needs a point of sale (POS) system. It allows employees to complete various key tasks, like navigating menu options and charging customers for their orders.

Kitchen display system: A kitchen display system (KDS) transfers orders that come through the POS to the kitchen so staff members can prepare the right meals for the right customers. These systems are much easier to manage than traditional ticket systems.

Set Restaurants up for Success

The fast-casual restaurant market share is expected to reach more than $209 billion by 2027. Launching a fast-casual restaurant will take time and resources so they can be positioned correctly in a valuable market.

A crucial part of the process is ensuring the kitchen is set up for success on day one. Owners should use the above suggestions to ensure they have the right restaurant equipment so they can quickly serve delicious food.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over five years experience writing for the food and beverage industry.

Fast Casual, Outside Insights, Restaurant Operations, Story