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!

How to Update Your Drinks Menu Using Ice Machines and More

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Here at What’s Cooking, we’ve been focusing lately on the benefits of our fantastic ice machines. This week, however, we would like to talk about how you can put them to good use. We are talking, of course, about updating your drinks menu. Why is it important to update your drinks menu? It helps keep your restaurant on the map and distinguishes it from the rest. Whether you choose to add a few signature drinks or mix up the entire menu altogether, changing your drinks menu can be very good for business. Read on for ShortOrder’s tips on how best to use ice machines and more to make the most of your beverages.

How to Update Your Drinks Menu

Get creative with your menu change.  Make some signature drinks, see what is popular at other restaurants, incorporate new beverages on the market into your menu… the possibilities are endless. If you don’t want to commit to long-term change, consider have a special drink of the week. You won’t have to invest in new ingredients permanently, but you will be able to keep your menu fresh and interesting, ensuring that newcomers are drawn in and regulars keep coming back.

Advertise Your Drinks Menu

It is not only important that you update your menu; you need to advertise it. The idea is simple: make it easy for customers to see and select a new drink. Advertise your new menu on your restaurant’s website and social media outlets, include special inserts in your full menus, or add stand-up drink menus to each table. Also add your business to websites like BeerMenus and Taplister, which allow customers to search for craft beer near their location. Advertising on these sites also allows customers to find your restaurant while on the go. Customers search most often on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday between 1 and 9 PM, so be sure that your beer lists are up-to-date at those times.

Alcohol Menu

Consider stocking local beers, wines, and spirits on your new drinks menu. In the “What’s Hot in 2013 Alcohol Survey” by the National Restaurant Association, nearly half of the top 20 trends involved a demand for locally-produced alcohol. Onsite barrel-aged drinks was the #1 predicted trend, while micro-distilled/artisan liquor, locally-produced spirits, regional signature cocktails, locally-produced beer, craft beer, and signature cocktails all made the list as well. Additionally, going local can be a great way to support local businesses and create a niche for your own business. Put those ice machines to good use and come up with some signature cocktails. Obviously the more unique the cocktail the better, but a signature cocktail can also be as simple as putting a twist on a familiar drink and giving it a name that is specific to your restaurant.

Coffee and Tea Menu

You can also mix up your coffee and tea menu! In another survey of 2013 trends by the National Restaurant Association, specialty iced tea and organic coffee ranked among the top 5 beverage trends. Try a coffee combined with a special syrup, flavored milk, or even spiced tea. Offer it hot or use your ice machines to serve it up over ice. We recommend dice-sized cubes from your ice machines for cold coffee and tea drinks.

Ice Machines and More

For more information about ice machines that can help your business thrive, check out ShortOrder’s lines of Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice machines. You can also explore more of our blog and learn about the favorite drinks of famous authors, how to choose ice machines for your business, how to save energy with your ice machines, and much more.

5 Energy-Saving Tips for Your Ice Machines

Friday, April 19th, 2013

ShortOrder knows that ice machines are vital to your business. Foodservice operations need ice machines for any number of purposes day in and day out, most often requiring ice in large volumes all day, throughout the week. This can result in high costs, not only in terms of ice machine wear, but in energy, as well. We have already touted the benefits of Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice machines, and we’d like to share some more tips with you on how to stay green and save money when it comes to operating your ice machines.

1.  Make sure that your ice machine is of the proper capacity for you restaurant. An ice machine that produces too much or too little ice for your needs can be a big waste of energy.

2.  Invest in an air-cooled ice machine. Air-cooled ice machines use less energy and less water than their water-cooled counterparts.

3.  Close your ice machine’s lid. Keeping the lid open for longer than is necessary makes the ice machine work harder to remain at the correct temperature, causing a further loss of energy. Make sure your employees know to close the ice machine’s lid promptly after every use.

4.  Clean your ice machine regularly. This includes changing out the water filter according to the manufacturer’s directions. Cleaning ice machines on a regular basis allows the machines to remain in proper working order to operate smoothly.

5.  Maintain your ice machine regularly to ensure that all components function correctly. Regular maintenance will prevent the ice machine from breaking down later, leading to not only major repair costs, but to disruption of your business.

For more tips about ice machines and other quality restaurant equipment, keep reading our blog. You can also visit us on Twitter and Facebook for ShortOrder updates, news, and more.

Ice Machines: Which One is Right for Your Business?

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

If you are evaluating ice machines to purchase a new one for your business, you know that are many options available. So what kind of ice machine’s right for you? The answer depends on several factors, so a little forethought in the beginning when considering ice machines can save you money and a major headache in the long run.

Your Ice Machine’s Dimensions

Perhaps the easiest thing you can ask yourself about your ice machine’s requirements is what its dimensions should be. After all, you don’t want to buy a machine, only to find that you can’t fit it through the door! Measure the doorways and the space you want to put the ice machine to make sure you will have plenty of room. Allow for five to eight inches of space on every side of the ice machine. If you are going to purchase a compressor, be sure to consider the space it will fit into also.

Volume of Ice

Calculate the volume of ice you will need to remain operational. Keep in mind the fluctuations in the amount you will use from season to season, as well as the climate in which your business operates, especially during peak hours. You should also take into account the potential of growth for your business, so we recommend adding 10-20% to your estimate. When you evaluate ice machines, keep this number in mind, as ice machines come in a variety of options when it comes to pounds of ice produced per 24 hours.

Types of Ice

Next consider the types of ice you’ll need. You may only need a few kinds, or your need may vary with the seasons. (For example, nugget ice may be more popular during the summer than the winter.) Because of this factor, you may need to consider multiple ice machines.

Connection Requirements

Make sure you have the proper electrical and plumbing connections available where you want to place your ice machine. Ice machines need a direct connection to a supply of cold water, as well as a separate drain line for both the ice machine and its bin. Additionally, electrical and water connections need to be at least within six feet of the machine.

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