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Defunct restaurant equipment auctions

I'm in the market for a stove, preferably a used one of commercial quality. I like the idea of buying from a restaurant that's going out of business. Has anyone done this for their home?

Restaurants go out of business every day. Some restaurant owners will end up selling their fixtures themselves, on site. Some of the stuff will be trucked off and consolidated for an auction sale. Some of the auctioned stuff will end up for resale at a restaurant supply house (I imagine this is the easiest source for a consumer, but the most expensive of these three paths).

How does a consumer find out about these three paths for equipment auctioning? Is there a national site that tells us about upcoming auctions?

I'm in Orange County, California, and am looking for any of these avenues for a bargain on a 30" stove. I could schlep up to the restaurant supply row on Washington Ave in Los Angeles, but am more interested in going to the auction myself and bidding against the resale guys. Any local tips?

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  1. I've had good luck at a few auctions run by these guys:

    But they're in San Francisco, so probably of limited help to you down south.

    A restaurant auction is both really cool (wow! look at all that stuff!) and really sad
    (awww, they tried hard but it didn't work out). Prices can be very good and you
    generally need to be ready to haul out what you've bought immediately.

    1. 1st off you may have a hard time finding a "professional" 30" stove. The other problem is that true professional stoves aren't insulated. They can't be installed next to wood cabines w/o a serious threat of a fire. You might have better luck trying Craig's List for people who are redoing their kitchens and getting rid of the "pseudo professional" range ie. http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/hsh...
      Good luck.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jnk

        Good points. There's also the issue of residential gas fittings being too small for commercial fixtures, and I was planning on weeding through a lot of unsuitable stoves to find the One Stove that Rules Them All.

        But the craigslist idea is a good one, and probably more realistic for my criteria. One more site I'll have to get in the habit of reading every day!

        1. re: jnk

          Just to piggyback on what JNK has already said... the amount of natural gas required for "professional" grade stoves often requires a 3/4" supply pipe to accomodate the larger burners. This can be a very costly venture in itself depending on the location of your main relative to your kitchen, if your place is on a slab or raised foundation, etc.

          Also, you may not find these stoves very convenient either. Some have pilot lights that can get very hot in the summer, while others require an external lighting source (i.e. match). The features that one finds convenient on a typical residential stove may not be on a true professional stove setup either.

          Your money might be better spent on a new or used model meant for residential use that has some of the features you may appreciate like larger burners, warming trays and convection. Just about every major appliance manufacturer offers at least a few models with varying levels of bells & whistles.

          1. re: jnk

            What Jnk said - I bought a Wolf stove from a restaurant for less than $200 only to find out that I would have to do about $5,000 in insulation and renovation for my kitchen to accommodate the stove.

            I sold it for $500.

          2. I'll bet your best chance of finding a restaurant equipment sale or auction or a stove would be to keep an eye on the Sunday paper.

            1. The California section of the LA times has an auction section on Saturdays. There are always restaurant equipment auctions listed.

              2 Replies
                1. Make sure you have a way of getting it home right then and there. Sometimes they'll give you until the end of the day to arrange to pick it up later, but better off being prepared by renting a van or truck, if you don't own one.

                  edit: duh, already been said.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dukegirl

                    >>duh, already been said.

                    But well worth repeating. If it's a sizable enough auction, you'll probably be able to find someone around willing to haul it for you at a fair price, but you shouldn't count on it.

                    If you go to one as a spectator first -- it shouldn't cost anything to watch -- you'll catch on to the whole thing pretty quick. But be careful, they're a bit addicting.

                  2. It's been my experience with restaurant auctions that you generally overpay for what you get. Such is the nature of competition. We have a big appliance store here near Boston which often has floor models used for demos available on the cheap. One fellow recently bought a 53" Viking grill with side burners and undercabinet for $2,500 there. I've done demos on that very unit and can tell you that it was a beauty and in perfectly fine shape. The who kit and kaboodle probably retails for about $9,000. Often units like these are provided by distributors, and it is from them that you would make the purchase. For example, that grill was distributed in NY and New England by Dalia out of CT. They set the price. It makes sense for the distributors and retailers to update the demo models every few years. Good luck.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: almansa

                      Almansa, where is this appliance store you mention? I live in Boston and we are looking to price out a kitchen rehab.

                    2. Be careful. A lot of US states prohibit putting a true commerical stove into a residential application. Like a couple of people have mentioned, these things give of serious heat, more so than even a residential Bluestar. Wood cabinets near are a no no. I believe that behind the stove has to be fireproof material, even stainless over drywall won't do. Also you might require a true commerical venting system. Personally I would just go wtih a BlueStar range for the home.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mattwright

                        Good point. I've also heard of some insurance companies cancelling policies or denying coverage for claims where there was a commercial stove in the house.

                      2. Ditto what everyone else said. First married, bought a 6 burner Vulcan range from a church that was renovating for $100. We thought this was the deal of the century. They had to take our back door off to get the stove into our house. Required insulation of the floor and walls around the stove with what the contractor told me was the modern day equivalent of asbestos (though not poison). This was not cheap. Also required the purchase of a true commercial grade ventahood to prevent the house from burning down. Over $3000 for the hood. The pilot lights generated a LOT of heat in a small kitchen and as others said, it was uninsulated so the oven was hot to the touch when it was on. This was before we had kids, but I would NEVER have an uninsulated one with children around.

                        All that said, it was very impressive to everyone that came to our house and it was what sealed the deal when we sold our house.

                        Now I have a Viking 6 burner range top and GE double convection ovens. It is much safer and I love them.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Razorback

                          One way to deal with a real need for commercial-grade heat is to get one of these babys:


                          60,000 btu and you keep it outside so no need for insulation, venting, or any of that.

                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                            Yup, planning on one of those for the backyard, in stainless steel and with a bronze gas head, if I can find that combo. Cast iron head is the most common, but it'll rust in no time.

                            Thanks everyone for the cautionary advice on contractor installed upgrades and whatnot. That's all good to know.

                        2. I am in the market for a commercial size dishwasher and live in San Francisco Bay Area. I just need a smaller one for glassware only. Were you able to have any luck in finding any auctions that you would recommend?

                          1. I bought all of my equipment from auction. Be very careful in doing this however...most auction companies sell whatever they can get their hands on which means there is a lot of junk to be had. Best to find a quality site or at the very least inspect items in person. I used http://www.DoubleTakeAuctions.com

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dstantdog

                              I've been doing restaurant auctions for ten years now and while there certainly are great deals to be had, you have to know your equipment and their prices in order to ascertain whether the deal is a good one or if you've just been had.

                              Bear in mind that restaurant equipment takes a good deal of abuse and the condition of the equipment ranges from pristine to beat to hell. And since you're dealing with auctions, you really don't have the ability to specify the equipment for your needs. This means that you'll either have to live with whatever is available or wait and lurk for the right piece - which may not surface for years.