Not all kitchen equipment is created equal
Whether you're opening a restaurant for the first time or you're an experienced restaurateur, you need to find ways to save money wherever you can. To reduce the amount of upfront costs, you can lease some restaurant equipment rather than purchase it outright. Each piece of equipment a professional kitchen needs comes with different warranties and life expectancies. It may be better to purchase some pieces and lease others.
Food storage equipment like freezers and refrigerators are big-ticket items that usually come with long shelf lives. Walk-in freezers may set you back as much as $10,000, but these large appliances usually come with long warranties, from 15-year to lifetime warranties. Although leasing a walk-in freezer would cost significantly less, it can add up. For example, if a 12-month lease of an 8'x20' walk-in freezer in Florida comes with an estimated quote of $1,332 per month, you'd end up paying more in the end, but typically your monthly payment would cover repair costs.
Buy: If you have the capital or can secure a loan
Lease: If you have no other option
Of all the equipment in a professional kitchen, it's the ice machine that's usually down. They are known for being the least reliable appliances, but also a necessity in any restaurant. If you buy an ice machine, which is relatively inexpensive compared to major appliances, it's only going to set you back about $2,000 to $4,000. Warranties are shorter on these pieces – usually no more than five years.
Leasing an ice machine is a better choice because it will likely cost you a couple hundred dollars per month, and the price includes repairs. If you do the math, you end up paying more to lease an ice machine for 24 months than if you were to purchase one, but it may be worth it compared with the hassle of breakdowns and finding a way to get ice for the day (many leasing agents work fast to get a working machine in your kitchen as quickly as possible).
Lease: To save on hassle and upfront costs
Buy: If you have a backup plan when the machine breaks down
Coffee Makers & Espresso Machines
You're likely to get a lot of use out of your coffee or espresso machine, so it may be surprising to hear you should lease these appliances. They have relatively short life spans and warranties. Plus, you can find many leasing agents that will supply the machines if you sign a contract to buy coffee and filters from them. It's a win-win situation for you because you pay a monthly fee for the coffee you need and get the machine, along with repairs.
Lease: Especially if you can get a contract that includes a backup plan in case of breakdowns
Buy: If you're specializing in coffee or espresso
Gas Ranges & Stoves
A gas range or stove is a purchase-over-lease decision. You can even buy used gas appliances with confidence. These appliances are built to last and repairs are far less costly than electric equipment. If you buy new, you're looking at anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, but considering the long life expectancy of these appliances, it's a good investment. Warranties vary, but generally these appliances only carry a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
Buy: These appliances are long lasting – even buying used is smart
Lease: If you don't have the cash
Editor's Note: Looking for equipment leasing for your restaurant? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free: