What Kitchen Smallwares Will I Need To Open A Restaurant?

Chef Al's Equipment Buyer's Guide for First Time Restaurateurs

“What restaurant kitchen supplies, otherwise known as smallwares, should I get when opening a restaurant?" A new restaurant owner may have this question. Generally smallwares consist of the following categories: glassware, flatware, dinnerware, cookware, pots and pans, table top items, bar supplies, food preparation utensils and tools, storage supplies, service items, and small appliances costing $800 or less, depending on the size of your restaurant.

While there are non-commercial smallwares available, it is advised not to purchase them as they will not be able to withstand being used in a commercial kitchen. Within a few months you will have to purchase more and this could be costly; commercial smallwares, on the other hand, are sturdier and will save you money in the end. Commercial smallwares are also able to withstand repeated cleaning.

Keep in mind the size of your restaurant so that you purchase smallwares in the correct sizes. With a bigger restaurant comes the need for larger pots and pans, as a smaller restaurant can get away with much smaller pots and pans. When purchasing refurbished or used smallwares make sure you are getting the best quality item to ensure it will last awhile. Only buy as many smallwares as you think your restaurant will need, there is no need to purchase more than what you will initially use.

What is the right amount? Different successful restaurants each have their own formula which they believe works best for them. There has yet to be a proven rule of thumb method. Some restaurant owners can offer useful tips for you when it comes to different categories, such as:


Purchase two and a half times as many place settings as the number of seats. Cutlery is easily thrown away, damaged, and stolen. Therefore, a restaurant requires a lot more on hand.


Glassware includes all glasses used in the dining room and bar except for any less frequently used barware such as shot glasses and brandy snifters. If you serve water to each person, purchase one and a half times the number of seats. In any restaurant, 16oz glasses are used most often. Purchase extra to avoid reordering something that may be out of stock. If you plan to use the same type of glass for water, pop and beer, then you should order three times the number of seats. Glassware can easily be broken from waiters dropping them or customers knocking them over accidentally. Dishwashing chemicals that are needed to sanitize the glassware properly can often cloud the glasses and also chip them.


Purchase two times as many place settings as the number of seats. Keep in mind if you have specialty china that requires significant wait times. If you know a certain piece of china will take three months to arrive, then you should purchase more of that particular item. Work with your supplier to see what type of china is frequently in stock. You may want to consider going with something that can be easily replaced.


You should purchase one and half times the number of seats for more commonly used glassware such wine and beer glasses. This rule of thumb does not apply to shot glasses, rock glasses or brandy snifters. These types of glasses should be based on the number of sales you believe you will achieve. Rock glasses will probably be used more than shot glasses and brandy snifters. However, this will all depend on the type of restaurant you have and how much of your sales comes from the bar. Because speed is everything for a bartender, breakage is higher therefore you may want to increase the quantity of your order.

Outfitting a new restaurant can be tough! At times it may seem like the items you need are endless. However, using this guide as well as our checklist below will greatly help when it comes to picking and choosing what smallwares you need for your restaurant.

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Checklist For Opening A Restaurant

Want more information? Don’t go into your first restaurant experience blind, let us help you! This popular checklist designed by industrial experts outlines the necessary items when opening a new restaurant. To download a free checklist please fill out the form to subscribe to Gator Chef's email list. By subscribing, you will also receive Gator Chef's newsletter about great deals on restaurant supplies, food industry business tips, and more. By using this source (you can always unsubscribe at any time), you’re sure to remember all those basic items you’ll need to open a restaurant. OPEN RESTAURANT CHECKLIST

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