I’ll Clean The Ice Machine…. Tomorrow

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

manitowoc_qm_45aSome of the most overlooked items in the kitchen are the spaces in the ice machine that we cannot see. Bacteria in an ice machine can cause the production of a biofilm. In turn, that biofilm causes visible mold. Even in the cold section of the ice machine, bacteria can survive. That bacterial can secrete a film and as that film increases, it gets harder and harder to remove.

I’ve been in the foodservice equipment business for almost 20 years. In that time, I’ve seen some scary things on-site. I’ve even closed a few establishments for the day as a means to reclaim the cleanliness of the facility. I have sold thousands of ice machines and have seen thousands more. I know that cleaning the ice machine thoroughly is inconvenient. If you have a 24/7 facility, you can’t do without a constant flow of ice from your machine. Regardless, you will lose ice production unexpectedly if the machine becomes so dirty it can’t function!

The ice machines of today have come a long way. Machines like those by Scotsman and Manitowoc provide on-board cleaning functions to help disinfect the ice machine. Add-on items like Manitowoc’s LuminIce Growth Inhibitor® keep your machine in top working order in a high-yeast environment (think bakeries) and the i-AuCS is an optional automatic cleaning system. Keep in mind, this won’t replace a periodic deep clean, but it will make them easier and less frequent.  Scotsman’s Prodigy Ice Machine line and water filtration systems come built with AquaArmor®, an antimicrobial compound that is molded onto key components of the ice machine to protect against bacterial growth. Filtration of the water coming into the machine can also help in keeping the machine running safe and efficiently. (more…)

Undercounter Ice Machines  

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Short-Order_Undercounter-IceIce is serious business, whether you’re serving fountain drinks or adult beverages. Without a constant, consistent supply of good ice, you can’t keep your customers refreshed. Maybe you have a large ice machine that is inconveniently placed and are looking for something to have on-hand while serving. Undercounter ice machines are designed to fit below a counter to maximize your kitchen’s space while still producing a serious amount of ice. Thinking about upping your ice game? Here are a few things to consider about undercounter ice machines.

How much ice do you use?

Ice machines use a measurement of pounds of ice per day. It’s good to know your range of ice usage on a 24-hour basis to know what capacity you are looking for. This is also important because while your ice machine is making an amount of ice per day, the bin holds a lesser amount (for example, the Manitowoc Ice Machine UD-0310W produces 271 lbs. daily and has a 100-lb. bin). If the ice bin fills, the machine will stop making ice, and if you use all of that at once, you’re starting from scratch. Keep note of how much you use on a day-to-day basis to find what size storage bin and commercial icemaker you need.

Consider dimensions

Before you pick out your perfect ice machine, think about where you would like to put it and make sure your icemaker will fit. Most are between 34 and 39 inches in height and vary in width and depth.

Types of ice

You’ll find that there are three types that commercial ice machines make: cubes, flakes and nuggets. Cubes are measured in “dice” size, usually with the option of “half dice” or “whole dice.” These are the most popular types of machines purchased.

With flakes, the machines produce small, hard bits of ice that mold to any shape, making it great for salad bars. Flakes also have a low production cost.

Nuggets are small, soft, chewable pieces of ice that are great for carbonated beverages and making blended beverages. This type of ice does tend to melt and stick together in a dispenser, so make sure you get an appropriate agitator kit.

Nothing is better than an ice cold drink on a hot day. Find the perfect undercounter ice machine for your business at ShortOrder.com!

Time to Buy a New Ice Machine? What to Look for

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Two Different Ice MachinesIce machines are one of the ‘grunts’ of the kitchen, constantly in use and long-suffering. It is easy to just keeping using yours until it breaks down and you have to buy a new one. But how do you deal with the sudden lack of ice? Is there a better way to handle the switch?

Signs You Need a New Ice Machine

Ice machines seem simple enough on the surface – their main function after all is to make ice. But there are a surprising number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to upgrade:

  • Energy efficiency gets better the newer your machine. In some cases, the cost of upgrading might be made up within a couple of years of energy savings, which makes it nearly a no-brainer.
  • Sheer volume might inspire you to upgrade if your old machine just can’t keep up with your customers’ needs.
  • Cubic footage is always at a premium in a commercial kitchen, and finding out that there’s a machine that makes the same amount of ice in half the space is huge.
  • Types of ice vary a surprising amount, and if you find that a new twist to your menu or prep process means suddenly you need more crushed than cubes or flake than blocks, a new machine can be the only answer.
  • Maintenance schedules are the final and most common reason why an ice machine gets replaced; when you reach a point where predicted maintenance costs outstrip new machine costs, the choice is obvious.

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Go ‘Beyond the Cube’ with Ice-O-Matic Portal for a New Experience

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

ice cubesAre you usually indifferent to which commercial ice machines you use at your restaurant? We understand that when shopping for new commercial kitchen appliances, your purchase is usually highly influenced by price and product quality; so what if there was a commercial ice machine company that went the extra mile to show you that it cares about the lives that its products touch? Would that determination to connect to you and your business change the way you felt about that brand and its machines?

Ice-O-Matic, an ice machine and ice dispenser manufacturer, wanted to provide restaurant management and owners something tangible that clearly showed its dedication to the restaurant industry. The result is the Beyond the Cube portal. When entering this portal, you can instantly see that the main purpose of it is to serve others, not itself.

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Unruly Ice Machines? 5 Common Ice Machine Problems and How to Fix Them

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Unruly Ice Machines? 5 Common Ice Machine Problems and How to Fix ThemSometimes ice machines just won’t cooperate. Whether you have too much ice or too little, a leaky unit, or a loud ice maker, ice machine malfunctions can throw a real wrench in the works at your establishment. But don’t worry—ShortOrder is here to help you troubleshoot. Once you’ve checked the obvious culprits (like the ice machine’s indicator lights and power supply) it’s time to take a closer look at the issue. Here are our tips for the top 5 common ice machine problems and how to fix them.

1. Combating Ice Machine Slime

Without proper maintenance, ice machine slime is a common problem among ice machine owners. This slime that accumulates inside the machine is a type of mold or fungus that forms when surfaces that are constantly covered with water droplets are exposed to warm temperatures. The result is a pinkish slime that can eventually become red, green, brown or black, coating your ice and lending it an unpleasant taste and smell. To prevent ice machine slime, wipe down and sanitize your ice machines regularly. To combat existing slime, use quaternary ammonium chloride (QAC). This will eliminate the slime and prevent it from reforming for a period of time after its application. If the mold is in your water lines, hoses, or fittings, however, you may need to get them replaced altogether.

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The Numbers Are In! Drink Trend Forecast for 2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The Numbers Are In! Drink Trend Forecast for 2014Ladies and gentlemen, start your ice machines! The predictions for 2014 drink trends are in, and trends are surfacing in on-premise sales, new flavor profiles, and fancy additions to cocktails. Some of the drink trends of 2013 are carrying over into the new year, but many brand new ones are surfacing as well. We’re certain that restaurants’ ice machines will be plenty busy this year as they adjust for the changing beverage scene.

Want to know more? Here are 6 of the top beverage trends to expect in 2014. Ready, set, sip!

1.  Premium alcohol beverages are on the rise according to Technomic’s 2013 BarTAB report. Technomic also anticipates continued dollar growth in premium adult beverages during 2014. While conscious of a slow economy, consumers seem to be drinking on-premise less, but spending more—not unlike “the ‘drinking less, but drinking better’ trend of the early 1990s” said Eric Schmidt, Technomic’s director of research. Top contenders to pair your ice machines’ ice with include Irish whiskey, single-malt scotch, and imported vodka.

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What Millennials Want from a Drink Menu

Monday, November 11th, 2013

There has been a lot of buzz lately about Millennials’ emerging role in the foodservice industry. They are a unique demographic, clocking in as the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers at 68 million individuals, and consisting of Americans between the ages of 21 and 34. From opting for price-conscious drinks to shaking up new flavors using ice machines’ ice for cocktails, there are many different ways that restaurants can cater to Millennials when it comes to modifying and marketing their drink menus. Here are 4 ways to tap into things that are important to Millennials when it comes to beverages:

Try What’s Trending

Pay attention to what’s new in the adult beverage industry. According to a survey by Technomic, Inc., Millennials are more likely to try a new drink than other demographics are. Tap into drink trends and new products to keep your beverage menu up-to-date and interesting so that Millennial consumers will take notice and keep coming back.

Offer Variety

Whether you employ your ice machines to shake up a variety of cocktails, serve house-made liquors over ice, or blend a specialty margarita with ice from your ice machines, make sure you give Millennials plenty options. Again, this demographic is more likely to venture outside the norm to taste something new. Millennials are also more fond of a wide range of alcohols, from Moscatos to tequila to seasonal beers, so don’t be afraid to mix up your inventory regularly.

Emphasize Flavor

While sweet drinks are certainly a favorite among Millennial imbibers, they are often an introduction to more a more expansive range of adult beverage ingredients. Pair spicy, smoky, or subtle flavors with ice from your ice machines to create unique drinks that cater to Millennials’ tastes.

Brand Loyalty? Not So Much

When it comes to choosing drinks, Millennials are less concerned with brand loyalty than they are with deals and a reasonable price point. As a demographic with high demands for creative drinks but relatively low funds to buy them, restaurants should focus on offering promotions and special events.

More Advice and Ice Machines from ShortOrder

How are you using your drinks menus and ice machines to cater to the spending power of Millennials? What are your most popular drinks to make with ice from your ice machines? Tweet at ShortOrder on Twitter or like us on Facebook and let us know!

What Kind of Ice Machine is Right For Your Hotel?

Monday, October 21st, 2013

If you’re currently in the market for a new ice machine for your hotel, you may find that there are more factors to consider than you could ever have imagined. We know that when selecting the right ice machine for your business, factors such as the machine’s physical dimensions, volume of ice, the types of ice it creates, and connection requirements are only the “tip of the iceberg.” So, then, what types of concerns should be at the forefront when purchasing a new ice machine specifically for your hotel? The choice between an ice dispenser versus an ice storage bin is seemingly simple, but while evaluating ice machines, keep these pros and cons in mind:

Ice Dispenser Pros:

  • Sanitation – Ice dispensers normally do not allow guests access to any part of the machine other than the dispensing mechanism, essentially disallowing guests any direct access to the ice. This helps prevent any cross-contamination between guests, as the scoop usually used in ice storage bins is eliminated.
  • Efficiency and Fewer Spills – Because dispensers usually have a limit on how large of a container can be filled, guests will be able to fill up their cups and wine buckets more quickly. The mechanism of dispensing also helps to ensure fewer ice spills and subsequently dangerous puddles.
  • Ability to Regulate Ice Dispensing – With a greater number of guests come a greater number of guests needing ice, and the ability to regulate how much ice is dispensed at once will help ensure that the early birds won’t be able to make away with all of the ice. Regulating ice by requiring a room key to be swiped or coins to be inserted will also help reduce waste of ice.

 

Ice Dispenser Cons:

  • Higher Maintenance – Dispensing mechanisms versus storage bins generally require more repairs or servicing simply because there are more moving parts in an ice dispenser than an ice storage bin.
  • Limited Container Sizes – Because some dispensers will have a smaller sink clearance, guests will be limited by the size of the container that will fit. Even with a huge clearance of 10.5 inches, Manitowoc’s ice dispensers would not be able to fill up a beach-day cooler efficiently the way the storage bin with a scoop would.
  • Space Requirements – Most ice dispensers, even with the option of a twenty-two inch wide dispenser, will stand taller than their storage bin counterparts. As a hotel owner, finding enough space or high enough ceilings to fit in an icemaker can be a real concern. Thankfully, manufacturers such as Manitowoc manufacture ice machines for small spaces.

 

Ice Storage Bin Pros:

  • Storage Capacity – The most obvious advantage of the storage bin is its ability to store more ice at one time (as opposed to most ice dispensers maxing out around 180 lbs), thereby providing guests with as little or as much as they need at all times.
  • Low Maintenance – Storage bins physically have less moving parts and potential breakdowns than their dispensing rivals, so that there’s a less likely chance there will ever be an “out of order” sign to upset your guests. In the long term, being able to repair your entire machine without having to purchase a new one could save you a lot of money.
  • Easier Access, No Minimum Clearance – With the large, hinged door and generous scoop, the ice storage bin allows guests to reach in and gather as much as they need when they need it. There is no limit to how large the container can be like there is with the ice dispenser.

 

Ice Storage Bin Cons:

  • No Regulation of Usage – Because guests have easy access to the ice and can have as much as they want (whenever they want) without having to pay, the openness of the storage bin runs the risk of having all the ice used up too quickly without being regulated.
  • Sanitation – The mechanics of the ice storage bin is such that hands will almost surely always be in or around the ice, as well as on the door and ice scoop. This could lead to a rapid buildup of contaminated ice and machinery, leaving you in a risky situation if a guest becomes sick.

While both have their advantages and disadvantages, remember that you can also opt for countertop icemakers or even head-only dispensers! Which kind of ice machine best fits your hotel? Connect with ShortOrder via Twitter and Facebook and let us know!

Ice Machines, Spices, and More: Top Drink Trends

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Are you caught up with the most recent trends in the beverage world? Restaurants that don’t change with the times can find themselves a bit low on profit and slow in business, so it’s best to put your ice machines to good use to offer customers trending options when it comes to drinks. This week ShortOrder offers you some of the top beverage trends in the business, and some ideas about how to incorporate them into your menus, from ice machines to coffee beans.

Pour-over coffee is making headway right now in the restaurant industry. This delectable spin on your basic brew involves pouring boiling water over a filter packed with coffee grounds. The result is the freshest of cups of Joe, and it seems patrons are willing to pay a little more for the quality. To mix things up, serve pour-over coffee on ice from your ice machines.

Try out specialty ice for your cocktails if you want to give your ice machines a rest. Flavored ice cubes might include smoked ice, flowers, fruits, spices, and herbs, and alter the flavor of a drink from start to finish. Use mint-infused ice in a mint julep, or simply add a new flavor to an old favorite with ice flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Spicy cocktails are another trend making the rounds at bars everywhere. This trend is manifesting in everything from cocktails with a strong splash of ginger to martinis featuring harissa, a North African chile paste. The spicy cocktail is actually part of a growing trend in preferences for foods with a kick in all areas of the menu. Take advantage of this trend by shaking up some spicy-but-subtle cocktails over ice from your ice machines.

Craft beer has been a major player in the bar scene, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. In fact, according to the Brewers Association, craft brew sales rose saw a 17% rise last year. To take advantage of this trend, find out where your local breweries are and consider stocking some of their wares. Customers will appreciate the local patronage, and brewers will appreciate the revenue and the publicity.

More Ice Machines and Tips from ShortOrder

What drink trends are you excited about right now? How have you put your ice machines to work to cash in on beverage trends? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about it! You can also browse our selection of ice machines online and find the one that fits your bar or kitchen’s needs the best.

Choosing the Right Ice Machines for Your School

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Ice machines are a vital component of any kitchen, be it in a large restaurant, a mom-and-pop diner, or a school cafeteria. Ice machines are used in schools to chill food in the serving line, as additions to soft drinks, and even in medical capacities. Athletic programs need ice to treat sports injuries, making ice machines an important part of a school’s sports facility. School nurses often make use of school ice machines, as well. In lieu of a countertop ice maker or a large in-office freezer, school nurses can use ice from the school’s cafeteria ice makers and use it throughout the day as needed. Because schools utilize ice machines regularly, having quality ice machines is important to keep things running smoothly in a school kitchen day after day.

Here are some tips from ShortOrder that will help you choose the ice machine you need for your school, plus some bonus tips for maintaining ice machines.

How Much Ice Will You Need?

First, you will need to make sure your ice machine will keep up with the needs of your school. Aim for about 1.5 pounds of ice per student when deciding what size ice machine you should purchase.

What Kind of Ice Do You Need?

To choose between different ice machines, you should next decide what types of ice you need. Dice sized, half dice sized, flake ice, and nugget ice are all common options of ice types in ice machines. Cubed ice is generally limited to food service settings, while flake and nugget ice are flexible in use and can be used in medical settings, as for sports injuries or in a nurse’s office.

Where Will You Put the Ice Machine?

The last thing you want is to buy an ice machine, only to find you have no place to put it! Measure the spaces in your kitchen where an ice machine could potentially fit, as well as the dimensions of the doors into the kitchen, factor in how much ice you will need on average, then shop with those dimensions in mind. You should also allow five to eight inches on either side for maneuverability. If you will need a compressor, remember to factor that into your configuration, as well.

Choose Your Ice Machine’s Brand

When choosing between ice machines, it’s best to go with a quality brand that will stand up to regular use and continue to produce quality ice day in and day out. Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice machines are both dependable and energy-efficient options for ice machines.

Choose the Best Price

Saving money is always a concern for schools, especially when ordering new equipment. Order ice machines and other restaurant equipment through ShortOrder, and receive free freight and consistently low prices. In fact, we will beat any ice machine’s advertised price by refunding 110% of the difference.

After You Buy Your Ice Machine

Once you purchase your ice machine, make sure you change the water filter at least twice yearly, since dirty ice can make students ill. Also be sure that you clean and maintain your ice machine properly to save energy.

Do you have tips for purchasing ice machines? Share them with us by connecting with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook!

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