Charlie's Fixtures, LLC - Restaurant Equipment and Supplies

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A Checklist of Everything You Need Before Opening a Deli Business

Have you ever marveled at the enchanting way a delicious meal transcends language and culture? Indeed, food is a universal language that brings people together one bite at a time.

Delis are an excellent example, offering high-quality meats, artisanal cheeses, and delicately crafted sandwiches that unite people from all walks of life. With a deli, the satisfaction of providing excellent food is unmatched.

However, there’s more to opening a deli than just a passion for pastrami or a love for Swiss cheese. When launching one, you need a solid plan and a comprehensive checklist that covers all essentials. Every aspect of your business requires careful consideration, from legal documentation to the perfect slicer.

You're in luck! This checklist outlines everything you'll need to bring gastronomic delights to your customers.

Licenses, Permits, and Other Essentials

There's a critical groundwork to lay before you can start crafting those delectable sandwiches. This section is your roadmap to ensure opening a deli goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Business plan

Every venture needs a comprehensive business plan that outlines its mission, goals, target market, and financial projections. Your business plan is your guide when making minor and major decisions. A well-crafted plan is vital for attracting potential investors and lenders to fund your growth.

  • Health and safety permit

As a food establishment, your deli must meet strict health and safety standards that can vary per state. Having the necessary permits is a legal obligation and an assurance that your customers can consume your offerings safely.

  • Food handler's permit

Handling, preparing, and serving food to customers requires a food handler's license or permit. Again, state regulations can vary in their requirements and processes. This certification demonstrates your food safety protocols knowledge and dedication to serving safe and delicious meals.

  • Sales license

Most states require businesses to get a sales license or seller's permit before operating. As a rule of thumb, if your state has a sales tax, you need a sales license to sell your offerings legally. Check with your local authorities to know the specific requirements you must prepare.

  • Zoning permits

Your deli location must also comply with zoning regulations to avoid potential hiccups. Zoning permits verify that your business adheres to the designated land-use policies in the area. Zoning regulations prevent costly mistakes like building in residential zones that can disturb the neighborhood.

  • Commercial space

Choosing a suitable commercial space can spell a difference in your deli's success. Consider factors like foot traffic, accessibility, and proximity to suppliers. Different locations will have differing pros and cons. For example, metropolitan areas will have more customers but might make it more difficult to access fresh produce.

  • Point of sale

An efficient point of sales (POS) system lets customers conduct transactions and helps manage your inventory and customer data. It's a tool that can streamline your operational efficiency and elevate the level of your customer service. Make sure to register your POS system per the regulations in your state.

  • Employer Identification Number

Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is vital for tax purposes and hiring employees. This federal designation distinguishes your deli as a distinct business entity. Thankfully, you can acquire one online at no cost via the IRS website.

  • Kitchen staff

You can't be everywhere at once, which is where your staff comes in. Hire experienced, passionate individuals who share your commitment to the establishment. When properly trained, they can extend your capabilities and improve the quality of your services.

Deli Equipment

Your deli will need an array of equipment to run. Here's a deli equipment list separated by type.

  • Food preparation

Food preparation equipment is where the magic begins. Equip your kitchen with essential tools like meat and cheese slicers for precise and consistent cuts, meat grinders for freshly ground meats, and food processors to handle various prep tasks efficiently.


A carving station and weighing scale let you maintain consistent proportion sizes. Of course, cutting boards, knives, and meat saws are this craft's essential tools. Finally, makelines and prep tables help with your kitchen's flow and keep the workspace organized.

  • Cooking equipment

Your cooking appliance selection should cover everything your deli offers. For one, a restaurant range is vital for many dishes that require cooking. Meanwhile, a commercial oven can give you access to fresh-baked sandwich bread and roasts, while a microwave is great for quick heating. If your deli offers smoked meats, a commercial smoker is a necessity.


Each tool opens menu options to keep your selection diverse and delicious. A high-quality set of cooking equipment also helps you maintain a consistently high quality for your offerings.

  • Refrigeration

Meat spoils rapidly at warmer temperatures, so your deli items need refrigeration equipment to maintain freshness. Invest in a walk-in cooler for larger quantities or a reach-in fridge for quick access to frequently used ingredients. A freezer is the primary solution for storing perishables, so your deli needs at least one.


Fresh ingredients can help distinguish your establishment as a high-quality and desirable place to eat. That's why implementing proper refrigeration and knowing which ingredients go where are the secrets to food safety and quality.

  • Service and tableware

When it comes to presentation, your choice of tableware (plates, bowls, and utensils) and disposables (napkins and paper or plastic cups) matters. It's not just about functionality like the back-end equipment; it's about creating an inviting and appetizing background for your customers to fully enjoy their meals.


If your dishes are artworks, you can think of the tableware as the frame in which you set your pieces. Inexpensive-looking and messy setups can reflect poorly on the meals. Conversely, an appealing frame can add to the experience and elevate your dishes.

  • Packaging

Did you know that more than half of all restaurant orders by millennials are for takeout or delivery? Your deli will need storage and transport equipment to keep up with this growing demand for to-go orders. A bag sealer and vacuum packaging machine can help you package online orders quickly and efficiently.


It would also be best if you optimized your food containers for transport to ensure your deli's products stay fresh and delicious long after leaving your establishment. Out-of-restaurant dining can represent more than half of your orders, so it's best to serve them well.

  • Furniture

The front of the house is just as important as your kitchen. Make your deli comfortable and visually appealing with restaurant furniture like display cases to showcase your mouthwatering offerings. Your tables and chairs can create a welcoming dining area for customers to dine and relax in the atmosphere.


You can also install sneeze guards to help with the sanitation and public health concerns coming from the pandemic. Meanwhile, the furniture you use is the "face" of your deli, so leave a good impression by making it as appealing as possible.

  • Sanitation

A clean and hygienic environment is essential for your deli's front and back ends. Invest in a dishwasher to handle simultaneous cleaning of many tableware items. Sinks are necessary for both food prep and handwashing.


You should also have the standard range of janitorial supplies like brooms, mops, gloves, buckets, and disinfectant to maintain a kitchen that can pass any health inspection. A spotless deli ensures customer safety and improves your food quality.

Slice into Success for Your Deli Dream

Passion for food must meet precise execution to turn your deli dream into reality. You must undergo demanding processes to get the necessary permits and assemble the ideal equipment.


While your passion fuels your culinary ambitions, precision keeps them afloat. With the right balance of these two ingredients, you can delight tastebuds and thrive in the competitive world of culinary entrepreneurship. You'll need careful planning, attention to detail, and the right tools to get there.

And when it comes to the right tools, look no further than Charlie's Fixtures. Our top-of-the-line restaurant equipment is perfect for modernizing your restaurant and helping your staff perform their best.

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