Opening a pizzeria is a huge financial undertaking – and that feels like an understatement. There are places to cut corners and there are places to spend the real dollars. I personally have not done a complete restaurant buildout and have no interest in doing one. I believe in buying an existing restaurant (with owner financing) and then assessing the situation to determine where to spend additional capital.
Every restaurant is different. Some restaurants will need replaced flooring, and some won’t. This is true with all aspects of a restaurant, including equipment. I have a standard list of what equipment we absolutely need in our pizzerias, and for the rest of the equipment, it depends on what the space dictates. Without fail, there is always some sort of equipment to buy when starting a pizzeria. I really suggest a holistic approach of different avenues and strategies when purchasing equipment.
I always buy new refrigerators. Nowadays, replacing compressors is close to the same price as buying new. No matter how cheap a piece of used refrigeration looks, it certainly has a shortened life span. I do like to use different suppliers, however. I like to find the best deal on the brands I like. I have a handful of brands that I like and trust, that are well-known in the industry. When purchasing them, though, there are deals to be made as you call around and check prices and compare apples to apples.
All other equipment I buy is used. That’s a bold statement – you may be wondering if I’m including ovens, mixers, tables, etc. The answer is yes. Unfortunately, many pizzerias go into business and then go out very quickly, and there is a lot of gently used equipment out there if you know what to look for. I have found that buying used ovens is like buying a used car. Just like when a car pulls off the lot, after the first pizza goes through the oven it starts depreciating at a drastic rate. I scour the internet, checking Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Craigslist to look for deals. I even use Craigslist in larger cities that are within driving distance of me to search for the right deal. If you are questioning buying used equipment, I’ll be the first to tell you that I have never bought a brand-new mixer or oven.
I have bought lots of equipment from stores that have gone out of business. I find that those are the best deals if you can use most of the equipment and sell the others. I try to buy backups of equipment if I find a great deal. Used smallwares offer some of the best savings. I buy pans, Cambros and even pizza cutters and peels for pennies on the dollar. When I know I am opening a pizzeria, there is not a day that goes by that I am not looking for a deal on equipment on the internet. Holding on to your cash for when you begin operations, so that you have operating capital, is key. My favorite way to do that is to buy the restaurant with owner financing — and that’s what we will get into in next month’s Building Blocks.