SENECA FALLS — Restaurants have a few basic kitchen needs, like the equipment needed to cook food, as well as freeze and cool it.
Finger Lakes Restaurant Equipment provides both, new and used, to an ever-growing number of restaurants. That includes the recently opened Corner Deli and Bakery in downtown Waterloo and the soon-to-be-reopened former Abigails Restaurant in Seneca Falls, which will be known as Barkley’s Riverside.
Seneca Falls resident Joe Velte owns Finger Lakes Restaurant Equipment. He and his fiancée, Jennifer Maine, run it with accounting help from Velte’s mom, Sue.
Joe worked in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning business for several years before delving into restaurant equipment.
“I’ve always been able to fix and find things,” he said. “I’d go to auctions to buy industrial kitchen equipment and found a new pizza oven for someone. Whenever a restaurant or supermarket would close, I’d be there for the auction to bid on its ovens and refrigerating equipment. I’d fix and clean them up to look good and work well, and I’d sell it to other restaurants that are opening up.”
Finger Lakes Restaurant Equipment offers refurbished equipment for a much lower price than companies in Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca that do the same thing, Velte said. And, they provide a guarantee to customers.
“We buy used commercial refrigerators, ice makers, confection ovens, meat grinders and slicers, grills, fryers and ovens of all sizes, stainless steel tables and different sizes of cooler and freezers,” Velte said.
The company bids against other buyers when they hear of equipment being available.
“Our reputation is good, and we often get first dibs on equipment,” Velte said. “We wash them, steam-clean them, polish them, and myself and my longtime mechanic, Kory VanZile, go through them to make sure everything that needs replacement is replaced and everything works perfectly. Each piece goes through extensive testing before it goes out the door.”
Jennifer handles the company’s online computer work and orders.
The company will ship its equipment anywhere, including Texas and Florida. The company has a 26-foot box truck to make many of the deliveries throughout upstate New York.
Finger Lakes Restaurant Equipment sells new equipment too, dealing with three brands: Miglani, Atosa and Omcan.
The company supplies retirement homes, schools and concession stands with kitchen equipment, along with businesses like Downtown Deli, Ciccino’s, Miss V’s, F-n-A Rhythm & Booze, Coach’s Diner, Rich & Vern’s Short Stop, and all four Parker’s Grille and Tap Houses. Club 86 and Uncle Joe’s in Geneva are customers, also.
“We sell for a low price, but we make a living,” Velte said.
The company rents space from Manhill Vending owner Tom Hilimire on Auburn Road.
“We like the space here and don’t have any plans to move,” Velte said. “It’s well set up for what we do.
“If someone asks for restaurant kitchen items and we don’t have it, I’ll get it for them somewhere else,” he added.