Should You Lease Or Buy Restaurant Equipment?

The right kitchen equipment is an important part of any catering venture. Whether you’re planning to open a new restaurant or just refit the kitchen in the old one, you may be making a choice between buying outright and leasing your kitchen equipment.

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There are pros and cons to both options. If you buy outright, then you will save money over the life of the unit. But if you don’t have a lot of cash to spend at the outset, or you anticipate expanding in a short period of time, then a lease agreement may be an alternative.


When you buy a piece of kitchen equipment outright, you ensure that you aren’t adding to your overheads. If you buy directly from the manufacturer, then you may have to arrange delivery and installation yourself. Suppliers, who act as intermediaries, will usually help with this.

Once you have bought, however, the only way to change your mind is to buy a replacement and sell the unit you have. This is worth keeping in mind when you are buying things such as commercial wine coolers. A small under-the-counter unit may be enough in the short term, but if you were planning to open more in the evenings, you may want a bigger unit, such as these

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With a rental, you are adding a monthly overhead to your business. To balance this, however, you will be able to change your equipment should the needs of your business change. At the end of the lease agreement, you won’t own the equipment, and you will need to either buy a replacement or enter into another rental agreement.


One thing to check when entering into a lease agreement is repairs. Are they covered as part of your contract? Whether you own or lease the equipment, it is important that it is working properly to ensure that you are keeping ingredients at the proper temperatures. The Food Standards Agency has guidelines on this which you can download here:


Ultimately, you must decide what is best for your business. If you have the cash to invest, then purchasing will give you at least a partial return on the money invested. If you don’t, then rental may be the only way to get the equipment that you need.

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