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How to Equip Your Concession Stand


Never put the cart before the horse! You should not even be thinking about what appliances or equipment you need to buy for your concession stand until you have settled on a menu! Once you have a menu that you are committed too, you can start to consider your appliance and other equipment requirements.

You will need to consider the larger items such as restaurant ranges, fryers, and microwaves and the smaller equipment such as cooking utensils. At this stage, don’t concern yourself with the consumable products such as paper cups and napkins.

There is a vast assortment of commercial and home appliances available and most are available as new or used. Choosing which equipment to purchase is critical, buying appliances that will not handle your customer load will mean lost sales and buying appliances that can produce far more product than you could ever sell is a waste of hard earned capital.

Should you buy commercial or residential appliances and equipment?

Commercial appliances that are used in restaurants and the standard residential appliances that we use in our homes are substantially different in their construction, although basically the same in functionality. Home appliances are not made to stand up to continuous operation for 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Commercial appliances are much more rugged.

Each state has different rules with respect to whether or not you can use a specific residential appliance in a commercial application. As an example, most states require that you use a commercial refrigerator that is NSF certified, where as few if any states require the use of a commercial microwave.

Before you purchase any appliances for your concession stand make sure that you know the rules that your state applies to the use of home appliances in a commercial environment.

Where you are allowed to use a residential type of appliance you must consider the usage. Although a residential microwave will be very economical when compared to a commercial microwave, if the demands of your menu will require that it is in use for 10 to 12 hours a day, economically you are probably better off to purchase the commercial unit rather than having to buy a new residential unit every month!

It should also be noted that many residential appliance warrantees are void if used in a commercial application.

Selection of commercial appliances

Selection of residential appliances.

Equipment Power

If you are going to be following the fair circuit you will find that many of those venues have very limited availability of electrical power. Some venues may not provide any electrical power at all. One of the questions commonly asked on the event submission forms is; "what are your electrical requirements for your concession stand?" If the number is too large you will not be invited to attend.

Do not purchase equipment or appliances that require a 240 VAC connection as that will truly limit the number of events that you will be able to attend.

The smart concession stand operator will choose equipment and appliances that are powered by liquid propane (LP). It is usually relatively easy to arrange to have propane delivered to the venue. Some operators will use LP powered electric generators in order to ensure that they have adequate electrical power for their concession stand.

Should you buy new or used equipment?

As a business man or woman it is important that you keep your capital expenditures for the construction or your concession stand to a minimum. It is definitely not necessary for you to buy all of your equipment or appliances new.

When shopping for the equipment or appliances for your concession stand you will have three choices:

  1. New
  2. Comes with a warranty

  3. Used
  4. Generally does not come with a warranty. Used equipment is available at auctions and in some cases from restaurants selling equipment that they no longer require. Although the cost of a used appliance or piece of equipment may be difficult to resist, it is very difficult to judge the working status of a piece of equipment or appliance that you purchase from an auction or restaurant.

  5. Refurbished
  6. Generally comes with a warranty. You will see two different types of refurbished equipment. Refurbished by the manufacturer and just refurbished which usually means that the dealer has refurbished the piece of equipment or appliance.

Equipment and appliances that have been refurbished by the manufacturer should be your number one choice. In many cases these units have the same warranty as new units. As a second choice equipment and appliances that have been refurbished by a "reputable" appliance dealer can offer substantial savings.

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