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A Visit With Ice-O-Matic

A Visit With Ice O Matic

Some of my co-workers and I recently had the privilege to tour the Ice-O-Matic factory in Denver, Colorado.

Now don’t go running off just yet, let me get one thing said up front: I know that factory tours, or even ice for that matter, aren’t exactly at the top of the list for must-do’s, but I think each of us learned something during that tour.  Not only did we learn more about ice in general, but we also learned that Ice-O-Matic is filled with passionate people that love to share that passion with others – yes, even over ice – and believe that investing in an ice machine is more than just another piece of equipment in your kitchen.

Okay, So What’s With the Ice?

Of course we had to start the tour with a run through of ice and how the machines work.  Among other facts, I think my biggest take-a-way was that I’ll never look at ice in my cup the same way anymore – cleaning and sanitizing is crucial with ice machines because ice is considered a food.

As a germ-a-phobe myself, I told our presenter that now I have yet another phobia to add to my list of foods to be scared of.  He of course laughed and said, “Well, as long as that machine stays clean and the water is filtered, consumers of ice should be just fine, and the life-span of the ice machine is greatly increased.”

But it wasn’t just the cleanliness of ice that I was able to walk away with; we also learned a slew of information about the frozen water:

  1. Cube Ice: Bars typically prefer to serve up bigger ice sizes because it makes the beverage look more appealing – some bars even buy blocks of ice so they can cube it themselves.  This style of ice is also preferred in hotter climates because it takes longer to melt.  75% of Americans prefer cube ice.
  2. Flake Ice: Schools, Universities and Healthcare facilities prefer flake ice because it can also be used for packing around injuries.  Grocery stores prefer flake ice to showcase seafood because it helps prevent the meat from bruising, and it can be formed into shapes – think waves of ice.
  3. Pearl Ice: Known by most consumers as Sonic Ice, the food service industry loves this type of ice because it’s chewable and takes the flavor of the beverage.  And believe it or not, 7 out of 10 people like to chew ice, and this is the preferred type to chew.  This ice is also commonly used for merchandising and displays.

But What Does That Have to Do With My Business?

Buying an ice machine isn’t just about choosing the right type of ice.  Our presenter was very insistent on making sure that each establishment looking to invest in a new ice machine was matched up with the right ice machine for them.  It’s not about the biggest, or most expensive; it’s about ensuring that the average ice usage per day is met, while leaving room for future growth.

A Visit With Ice O Matic

Okay, I’m listening, what else?

It’s also about knowing warranty details, like using a filter (and regularly changing it) can extend the ice machines warranty by 7 years!  And because water taste, hardness, chemicals, etc. vary in different parts of the country, having a filter is crucial to ensure the safety of the consumers. And the good news is that Ice-O-Matic will send out reminders for when your filter should be changed – you’ll have to make sure to register the warranty though.

After our presentation, we were then taken to the factory where we were able to see exactly how each of Ice-O-Matics ice machines were made.  Here’s a great video from the show “How it’s Made” so you too can see how they’re made:

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The Importance of The Right Ice Machine

Maintaining any kind of restaurant requires ice, lots of ice, and the only way to meet your frosty needs is with the right commercial ice machine. If your restaurant is stuck with an excessively large ice machine, you may be spending extravagant costs to make ice you don’t need.

This is not only wasteful and inefficient, but it’s an unnecessary financial investment doomed to melt away. On the other side of the cube, an undersized icemaker can be equally disastrous; imagine unsatisfied customers with lukewarm drinks, and improperly chilled food that wilts alongside patron loyalty. Again, a potentially devastating expense to your business.
The Importance of The Right Ice Machine

Icemakers aren’t cheap, so when shopping for your perfect frozen-water machine you need to consider two things: production necessity and storage capacity. You need to ensure that you are making enough ice to meet the needs of your customers and your kitchen without wanton ice cube creation. In order to discover the perfect ice machine for your restaurant, use the following strategy to roughly determine your daily ice needs.

Within the restaurant, have approximately 1.8 lbs of ice per customer; with cocktails, keep 3 lbs ice on hand per expected patron whereas soft drinks require about 8 oz per 16 oz drink. Catering companies and cafeterias usually should have about a pound per person to keep meals ideally chilled. Using your restaurant capacity and average daily visitors, you should be able to calculate how much ice to create per day.

If your restaurant typically serves a hundred people a day and half of them drink cocktails then you should have 180 lbs of ice with an additional 300 lbs for cocktails for a total of 480 lbs of ice daily. Once you’ve ascertained your ideal ice creation quota, direct your attention towards which ice machine is right for you.

The most convenient and space conscious icemakers come with built-in storage bins, whose capacity range from 80 lbs to 1100 lbs so you can find the perfect fit for your icy needs. After calculating the right amount of ice for your restaurant, browse Tundra’s selection of restaurant ice machines.

Like a snowflake, not all ice is the same. It can come cubed, flaked or even in nuggets and the choice lies with you (although the right option is really just a matter of preference). While most restaurants opt for cubed ice, flakes or nuggets can work well with cocktails or soft drinks. Because of its smaller surface area, flake and nugget ice melts faster.

This can, however, be advantageous within the restaurant. Flake ice’s tendency to melt faster makes it a faster cooling agent, and makes it perfect for quickly chilling a drink or for temporarily housing fresh seafood or chicken. Nugget ice is the midway point between the other two and goes perfectly in cocktails or sodas because they cool drinks quickly without melting away too soon. You can find cube ice machines, flake ice machines and nugget ice machines all at Tundra.

Will the ice machine market as vast and mysterious as the Antarctic, make sure you learn what you need and how to meet those needs in your restaurant.

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