Should you buy new or used?
Keep in mind that when you decide to buy restaurant equipment it is both acceptable and expected to negotiate pricing. An example of a perfectly normal negotiation is telling a vendor that you will buy a grill and oven if they will give you a stainless steel kitchen table for free. You might receive a smaller free item instead, but you are still opening the door for a better deal by negotiating.
If you are thinking about purchasing used equipment you should get a written guarantee. While it might not be a typical warranty, you will need some type of reassurance that the equipment you purchase will be in working order for a certain amount of time. Basically, when you purchase used, you are exchanging a warranty for a less expensive price. You will only benefit if the equipment saves you money. Do not buy any used equipment if you are not saving any money.
If there are any missing handles or knobs on the used equipment, do no worry. You can always add these pieces later for very little cost. Just focus on what is most important: Is the equipment working properly? Is there a written guarantee it will work for a specific period of time?
You should not purchase any equipment that is specialized like a combination steamer, a combination oven, or a convection oven. For these types of equipment, a warranty and comprehensive information regarding the proper maintenance and cleaning are essential.
The following are some items that you can safely purchase used:
Gas ranges are great appliances to purchase used. You should find out how many BTUs the appliance puts out. Also, you should steer clear of copper-clad gas ranges if you are trying to save money. There are many products you can find that are not as expensive.
Gas ovens are also a good item to purchase used. It is important to know that you should not purchase used electrical ovens. Electrical ovens are prone to more problems with temperature controls and sensors.
Fryers are okay to purchase used, but you should get a written guarantee that the thermostat is in good working order. Test the thermostat to ensure that it is correct. Also, if you are unsure of how to clean and change the oil, make sure you find out. Try to get the manual for any used equipment you are purchasing.
Grills are also a good piece equipment to buy used, especially if it is a gas grill. Be sure to give it a careful inspection visually because the inside of grills can burn out with time. Heat can distort and warp the inside of a grill. Check to see if the surface of the grill is flat. Inspect any removable grates to check to see if the surface is even.
Smallwares like salt and pepper shakers, tongs, soup cups and the like can always be purchased used.