Concession Stand Buying Guide

Concession Supplies and Equipment Buying Guide

What do hot dogs, popcorn, nachos and cotton candy have in common? They're easy to make and even easier to sell! Learn more about concession stand equipment in this buying guide.

Whether it's the nostalgia of small town fairs, or a visit to a baseball game, these activities are often made better with a snack in hand. Popcorn, cotton candy and nachos have one thing in common: they're easy to make and easy to sell! Though often not considered culinary superstars, concession stands remain wildly popular no matter where you are—and the high profit margins certainly make it appealing! No matter if you're in a stadium, or shopping for some lumber at your local hardware store, snacks like popcorn, hot dogs and more are enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

But where do you start when it comes to building your concession arsenal? We're here to help. Find out more about popular concession equipment picks, including which snacks might work best for your situation.

Popular Concession Stand Equipment

Portability is the name of the game when it comes to concession equipment. Designed to work anywhere you have access to a power source, these hot dog rollers, popcorn machines, cotton candy machines and more all work in indoor and outdoor settings alike. Thinking about adding a few snacks to your offerings? Read on to learn more.

Popcorn machine

Popcorn machine

Popcorn is one of those snacks that triggers a lot of our senses. We can hear the familiar "POP" while it's cooking and there's no denying the recognizable popcorn smell that permeates an impressive radius. The snack is always a big seller due to its versatility: go salty and buttery, or make it sweet with a caramel or chocolate drizzle. But wait—there's more. You can buy popcorn fixings separately (popcorn kernals, oil, etc.) or you can buy ready-made packs that are already portioned out with the right kernel to seasoning ratio for perfect popcorn every time. With popcorn, you'll also get some of the highest profit margins than any other concession equipment.

When looking to buy the popcorn maker, you'll want something durable, with tempered glass panels and a sturdy cabinet for storing popcorn that's made. Popcorn machines come in many different styles and sizes, from nostalgic carts to more contemporary designs, you can find the perfect popcorn machine for you.

Hot Dog Roller Grill, Steamers and Broilers

Hot Dog Roller Grill, Steamers and Broilers

We can't think of a place that isn't made better with a hot dog. Probably one of America's most popular foods, the hot dog is a perfect treat that's easy to eat at outdoor events, convenience stores, stadiums, pool bars—even home improvement stores!

When looking for the perfect hot dog roller grill for your needs, first consider size. High volume concession stands will require a grill capable of making anywhere from 50 to 75 hot dogs at a time. Some roller grills like those from Star Manufacturing feature low profiles to improve visibility to hungry customers. Plus, you'll love additional options like separate heat zones and optional bun warmers for the perfect dog each and every time.

But make no mistake, a roller grill is good for much more than just hot dogs. Great for sausages, taquitos, egg rolls and other breaded appetizers, a roller grill is perfect for those who want to diversify their menu but have a small physical footprint.

Finally, if hot dogs are on the menu but roller grills aren't your preference, look into hot dog steamers or broilers. Cooking by steam may take longer, but you'll find that the hot dogs and buns stay fresher, longer. Plus with a hot dog steamer both the hot dogs and buns are cooked within the same space, so you won't have to purchase an additional piece of equipment. Broilers work by cooking hot dogs on rotating sticks, which attracts customer attention and keeps food at a consistent temperature.

Cotton Candy

Cotton Candy

A tried and true favorite, few things are as whimsical as a big cloud of cotton candy. This anytime treat does extremely well at outdoor festivals, carnivals and other events with young ones (or the young at heart) in attendance. The basics of a cotton candy setup are simple; you'll need a sugar spinner, floss sugar and cones. With floss sugar and cones costing you less than a dollar per head combined, you're looking at profit margins upwards of 80% or 90%! Jazz up your cotton candy offerings by picking up a few colors to entice eager customers.

Nachos

Nachos

Few can go to any sports game without a serving of nachos within arm's reach. These addictive treats are simple (heat cheese, add chips, done) to prepare and often quite salty—beverage anyone? And the great thing about nachos is that you can easily dress them up for an upsell. Added jalapenos or ground beef could easily add another $1-$2 to the price per head. Nacho merchandisers are easy to spot due to their recognizable signage with trademark yellow cheese sauce. Merchandisers are designed to keep chips warm for serving, but that's not all! Use nacho mercandisers for peanuts, popcorn and much more.

Nachos

Pizza

In America, pizza pretty much sells itself. But a little presentation goes a long way, and you can enhance your pizza with merchandisers that feature custom signage and good lighting options to highlight your product. Tiered merchandisers often feature varying temperature controls so you can hold multiple products at once at controlled temperatures. Manufacturers like Nemco also feature stainless steel paired with tempered glass for added durability.

Sno-Cones Shaved Ice

Sno-Cones and Shaved Ice

Though similar in concept, Sno-Cones and Shaved Ice are two very different treats. Sno-Cones are made with crushed ice and added syrup. While it has a higher concentration of water, many customers prefer its crunchy texture. Conversely, shaved ice is exactly that—it's shaved off of an ice block and then put into a cup with flavored syrup. Making both treats is extremely easy and have high profit margins, making it a perfect addition for any concession stand.

How to Pick the Right Equipment for You

It's always wise to know your space requirements and restrictions before picking up any equipment. Some equipment can be large, and if you factor in additional accessories (hello hot dog bun warmers) you could be getting tight on space. Always check that the footprint of your machine will fit within its allotted counter space. And of course, don't neglect to consider what power options you have; limited access to power means that maybe only one or two pieces of equipment will be able to utilize a power source.

After you've examined your space's physical limitations, consider your menu and think about the long-term use of your equipment. The best part about concession equipment is its versatility. Heavier foods like pizza or hot dogs are good for locations where guests will be lingering for some time (like an amusement park or game). But snacks like popcorn can be used anywhere—like a hotel lobby or even a store showroom! Finally, when deciding on which variety of foods to feature, consider it good practice to include a mix of salty and sweet offerings to satisfy a wide range of tastes.

Sno-Cones

Concession Accessories

Once you line up your concessions equipment, consider additional accessories like countertop organizers and dispensers.

Ideal for straws, utensils, napkins, tiny condiment packets and dispensed condiments alike, these organizers are a must for a clean and sanitary concession stand. You might also consider additional trays and cups to help customers easily transport their treats.

Heated pump dispensers are perfect for hot, viscous liquids like fudge and cheese. Many dispensers are equipped with built-in portion controls that manage serving sizes and cost related to ingredients. If you'd rather give customers more control over their portions, consider a heated ladle dispenser instead.

Maintaining Concession Stand Equipment

From ooey, gooey cheese to fried dough or spun sugar, suffice it to say that concession equipment can get really dirty, really fast. Following a proper cleaning schedule is by far the best way to extend the life of your equipment. Cheese pumps quickly become clogged after a day of use, affecting the quality of your product. Warm, soapy water is the best way to clean your concession equipment. Always check with your manufacturer before putting any components into a dishwasher. Broken equipment? Don't fret! At Tundra Restaurant Supply we carry thousands of restaurant parts to help you save costs and get up and running again faster.

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