It’s an understandable question: “Do I really need an equipment stand? Or can I get away with just using a work table to hold my slicer/mixer/insert your favorite piece of commercial restaurant equipment here?”
The answer is: “It depends.”
Equipment stands are typically stainless steel tables that are specifically designed to hold pieces of equipment. You might be tempted to put your equipment on a less expensive work table, but in a lot of cases, that can be asking for trouble.
First, because they are designed to hold heavy equipment, equipment stands are more heavy duty than your typical, inexpensive table. It’s not uncommon for tables that hold this type of heavy equipment to sag or bow in the middle after a while. Equipment stands can withstand hundreds of pounds of weight. Because standard work tables are designed mainly for food preparation, they aren’t really designed to take that amount of weight.
Another benefit of an equipment stand is that they are typically lower in height. This means that they are often at a better working height for the equipment placed on top when compared to a table with a higher surface. This can be especially important if you are using a griddle or other piece of cooking equipment. Having a piece of cooking equipment on a higher table can make it more difficult to use, especially for shorter employees, and it greatly increases the risk of accidents like burns.
The last advantage of an equipment stand is that most come with a raised lip or an upturned edge that helps to ensure that the equipment placed on the stand will not slide off with repeated uses. This is especially important for equipment with moving parts such as commercial slicers. The raised edge (sometimes referred to as a marine edge) also helps to contain any spills that might occur.
If these caveats aren’t enough to convince you of the necessity for an equipment stand, then consider all the customization options and accessories available to make your equipment stand perfect for your specific application. Stands can be equipped with casters for equipment that needs to be moved around your kitchen or work area (but you don’t want casters for things like slicers as this can be hazardous, even with the casters locked!). You can also get shelves, drawers or sheet pan slide guides to stage your cooking supplies or ingredients. You can even get specialized equipment stands called chef bases that include a refrigerator or freezer area underneath to help save space and make for more efficient preparation.
All in all, the proper equipment stand or chef base can be the best choice for your particular application in your commercial kitchen.