Food is not just a basic necessity any longer. It can be a form of art or the bond that keeps family and friendship ties together. Food can be a way to kill boredom and food can be your best way to make some serious money. Set aside the more formal restaurant business in the USA (it’s hard to though, its projected worth in 2019 was $863 billion!); if you just look at the catering business alone, you will be astonished at how much it’s worth.
End of year 2018 statistics show that caterers who deal with social events such as parties and weddings (social caterers) had sales to the tune of a cool $8.6 billion USD while the mobile caterers’ business was worth $967 million USD. Suffices to say that you don’t have to open an upscale restaurant or even a kitschy diner to rake in a profit in the food industry. Caterers do just fine too.
The Biggest Challenge for Caterers
Most business models require owners to shell some money out of their pocket before they start pocketing some profits. In order to set up an establishment that serves food to customers, you need to invest in a number of things, such as real estate (for restaurants), advertising, food ingredients, kitchen equipment, food delivery equipment and networking, etc. Some of the expenses are recurring in nature, more like operational costs, while some are capital investments.
Your kitchen equipment would easily be the biggest capital investment if you own a catering business. Since you don’t have to worry about real estate costs, such as land purchasing or renting a space, and the costs associated with it such as insurances, you are left with one big investment before you get your business rolling.
There is no way to define what would be the best price to set up a kitchen. The usual starting value is roughly $15,000 for a restaurant the size of a ma-and-pop shop, and it can climb all the way up to $100,000, if you’re still hoping to have a modest food business establishment of any kind. Of course, the five and seven star restaurants will have some serious kitchen equipment whose value would be hard to determine.
Know Your Equipment
If you’re a sharp person when it comes to number crunching but lack information about the kitchen equipment in general, you need to prepare yourself to buy not one or two, but four sets of equipment. The quality and quantity of the equipment you buy will solely depend on what scale you wish to operate your business, but you’d still have to have some from each category:
a. Options to collect and store food ingredients. These can range from perishable items such as cold cuts and fresh vegetables, to the not-so-perishable items such as dried spices, grains, and flour.
b. Food preparation and processing items. These would take up the lions’ share of your equipment budget, and include items such as knives, peelers, frying equipment, ovens, broilers, pots and pans, utensils, etc.
c. Containers and serving items would be required to store the food that is prepared to be served or transported to the venue being catered. These days, you also need to consider vehicles and containers that are necessary specifically for the burgeoning home delivery market.
d. Finally, you need to have cleaning equipment to keep everything else hygienic and safe for food preparation purposes. You need to clean them so well so that you can eat literally eat off some of them!
What Are Your Catering Equipment Options?
The good news is, the catering business is so prevalent that you will easily find options to buy its equipment, both new and used. It all depends on your budget and choices. According to Worry Free Catering in Las Vegas, most caterers tend to opt for a mix of both new and used items, especially the ones who are just starting off and don’t want to invest too much in top-of-the-line catering equipment. Let’s look at some of these options below:
- Busted Businesses – It’s sad but true. Businesses that tried to make their venture successful but couldn’t because of some reason will try to recover their losses. It is a practical move for such businesses to avoid additional expenses in lugging around their equipment or paying for storage when they can sell it to someone looking to pay for it. What makes it one of the best options to get your equipment is that you can end up buying the whole lot rather than hunting for various bits and pieces in multiple places. You could ask for a discounted price if you are prepared to buy out their entire kitchen inventory. You could also save time, effort, and additional costs to find all the things you need to set-up your catering kitchen.
- Resale Stores – Some food establishments, especially corporations who own a chain of hotels or catering units, donate equipment that they no longer use because they’ve upgraded their inventory, or because they may be minimally damaged. There are stores which specialize in stocking such items, and you can easily find dishwashers, whole sets of utensils, work tables, etc. A few resale stores are setup on a non-profit or welfare basis so financially challenged people can buy things they need but not required by their previous owners.
- Damaged Appliance Stocks – You may be surprised to know that much like the fashion industry, the food industry too has stores where you can find slightly damaged appliances for a fraction of their original cost. A small nick here or a pipe that had to be replaced may put off the fancier food companies but their manufacturers or wholesalers still have to make some money off of them, right? So rather than getting nothing at all for them, they prefer to put them up for sale for lower costs, clearly indicating the reasons why their prices are marked down. You need to be sure you know to what extent has the quality of the equipment been compromised to judge if its reduced price matches it, or if its even worth buying. Costco and BestBuy are known to fall in this category of sellers.
- Yard and Garage Sales – Don’t hesitate to look through the slim pickings that are usually offered in backyard and garage sales in your neighborhood. Some of the equipment used in the old days may be cumbersome to carry or difficult to maintain by old people, but they can be tremendously useful on an industrial level. An added bonus is that you can stumble across some really cute, unique, and even charming equipment that can make you nostalgic and whip up chicken broth or spicy lasagna with your mother’s recipe – definite winners! You can start of by looking through local news or even craigslist to know about such sales nearby. Social media sites such as Facebook can be useful too.
- Auction Houses – Much like resale houses, you can also find used catering equipment at auction houses. The difference is that, at resale stores, you find equipment which is usually sold to them by their previous owners. Auction houses, on the other hand, specialize in dealing with repossessed equipment. Business owners who couldn’t keep up with the lease payments, or defaulted on bank loans, are forced to give up their business’ assets as part of the repossession or bankruptcy proceedings. These in turn make their way to auction houses who usually have a working relationship with money lenders to recover money through auctions. These days, auctions are also held online, and usually in bulk for catering businesses.
- Finally, you have a whole array of online stores where you can buy both used and new catering equipment. While there are several to choose from, some of the top ones in the US are are Webstaurant Store, Amazon, KaTom, RestaurantSupply.com, Eris Equip, and The Restaurant Store.
Worry Free Catering is located at 1810 E Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89104, (702) 825-6850.