The Ultimate Guide to Buying Used Restaurant Equipment

One way to keep your costs in check is to consider buying used restaurant equipment. You can obtain used restaurant equipment at a considerably lower price when compared to buying the same product brand new. Of course, the risk of buying used equipment is that there could be some defect or damage that you don’t detect until you’ve already completed the transaction.

But, if you know what you are looking for and can check to see if used cooking equipment is in good working condition before you close the deal, you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and trouble down the road. 

Below is our guide on how to buy used restaurant equipment, save money, and not get burned in the process.

Used Restaurant Equipment to Look For

What follows are some of the most commonly sold pieces of used restaurant equipment and what to look for. Before buying, you should carefully inspect and test each piece of equipment if possible. Otherwise, you will want to make sure you are buying from a seller that has a reputation to uphold so you know they won’t sell you a piece of junk.


When buying a used deep fryer, the number one thing you will want to check for is that the steel oil drum is free of cracks. Overheating or operating with an empty fryer tank can cause cracks to the drum. Replacing a fryer tank is possible, but it is expensive and unless you are getting a great deal you might be better off buying new.

You will also want to check and make sure that the heating element is working and that the machine is clean and free of caked-on grease. Dirt on used equipment is a surefire sign that it has not been properly maintained or operated.


Buying a used slicer restaurant equipment can seem like a good idea if you plan to operate a deli of any kind. A top-line meat slicer can cost $1,500 or more. 

The number one concern with used slicers is finding worn out or damaged parts, which are expensive to replace. Make sure to factor in the cost of new parts you will need — along with the asking price — and weigh that against the cost of buying or financing a new slicer.

First and foremost, check that the blade is free of gouges or warps. Ensure that the gauge plate and knife guard are not damaged in any way. New slicers usually come with a sharpener. Be sure to ask if the original sharpener is included, and if not, you can try negotiating for a lower price since you will have to buy one. Finally, check that the motor and power cord are functional.

Ice Machines

Given the cost of ice machines, starting at close to $1,000, it is tempting to buy a used ice machine for half the price or less. But, be careful about buying ice machines that have not been properly maintained. Ice machines need to be cleaned routinely to avoid the build-up of minerals and limescale. When too much scale builds upon an ice machine, it doesn’t operate efficiently, increasing the likelihood of mechanical problems.

Steam Tables

Steam tables are probably one of the safer things to buy used. As long as it has a working heating element and doesn’t leak, a steam table is pretty much good to go, and even those issues are not too expensive to repair. As always, check to make sure that stainless steel is free of rust, scale, or food build-up. 


When it comes to smallwares such as menu holders, sandwich spreaders, mixing bowls, utensils and so on, buying second hand will save you a good amount of money. However, you might have a hard time finding everything you are looking for. Instead of trying to hunt down all of your smallwares on the used market, supplement what you can’t find used with new restaurant supplies. 

Negotiate the Price

When shopping for used kitchen equipment, you want to walk away with peace of mind. And, also with knowing that you got a good deal.

When buying used restaurant equipment, whether from a restaurant supply company, another restaurant or via a site like Craigslist, remember that there is much more wiggle room on price than there is when purchasing new equipment. Don’t be afraid to make a lower offer than the asking price. But don’t get surprise to go back. And forth before landing on a price that both parties agree on.

Be able to justify the reason behind giving a lower price. Such as the presence of rust stains on stainless steel or the need to make repairs. You might also seek to negotiate a lower price for buying multiple items from the same seller. Who is likely eager to unload their restaurant equipment and recoup their investment.

Buy From a Trusted Source

Many restaurant supply companies that sell new restaurant equipment have used pieces for sale, as well. You might find that a restaurant supplier is a more reliable source than a failed restaurateur trying to quickly unload their equipment. A supplier is also more likely to work with you if the used restaurant equipment is faulty or malfunctioning.


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