Restaurant and Bar Ice Machine Guide
Choosing a restaurant or bar ice machine is one of the most important decisions for your business. The size of the ice machine, types of ice, and the amount of ice the machine produces are just some of the factors you’ll need to consider. Once you choose a restaurant or bar ice maker, you need to provide the proper installation requirements and care as well. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help answer your questions about restaurant ice makers.
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What Kind of Ice Machine Do I Need for My Bar or Restaurant?
The style of ice machine you choose depends on the type of business you run. Self-serve and fast-casual restaurants with limited staff may want an ice dispenser. A busy sports bar or family restaurant may need a high-capacity ice machine to meet their drink needs. Whatever business you run, there are a wide variety of ice machines on the market to fit your ice needs.
If you need a large amount of ice on hand to serve customers, then you need a high-capacity ice machine and a large ice bin. Modular ice machines are the best choice for full-service restaurants because they come in a wide range of sizes. These types of machines require an ice bin or a dispenser to store the ice until it’s ready to use. We have restaurant or bar ice machines that range from 500-1900 lbs of ice a day.
Quick Service Restaurants
Commercial ice dispensers are an excellent solution for quick-service restaurants and fast-casual establishments. Customers can retrieve ice for their drinks without needing staff assistance. Ice dispensers are also a more hygienic option than other ice machines which requires users to retrieve ice with a scoop. These systems give users more sizing options.
Bars and Cocktail Lounges
Undercounter ice machines are great small ice makers for bars with limited space. These ice machines measure under 41” tall so they can fit under countertops and other fixtures. Undercounter ice machines allow bartenders to retrieve ice without the help of a barback. Bartenders have ice directly below them, so they can serve drinks fast and focus on their next customer.
How Do I Select the Right Type of Ice Cube?
The shape of an ice cube is not just aesthetic. Each ice shape provides a different business need. Choosing the right type of ice can help to elevate your drinks, display food, or even save you money on product loss.
What Type of Ice Machine Condenser Do I Need for My Restaurant?
Your ice machine’s condenser is one of the most vital refrigeration components. Condensers cool refrigerant so they can use it to freeze a batch of ice. If the condenser overheats, it will take longer to produce a batch of ice – which means less ice for your business. Condensers have a cooling system that keeps them from overheating. There are three common types of ice machine condensers.
What Do I Need to Install a Restaurant or Bar Ice Maker?
Restaurant or Bar Ice Machine Cleaning and Sanitation
Ice machine cleaning and sanitizing is necessary to prevent the growth of mold and slime in your restaurant ice maker. A professional ice machine cleaning service can also remove scale from vital ice machine parts. Mold and slime can lead to a damaging health violation, while scale buildup can damage your ice maker, requiring expensive repairs.
Regular cleaning helps to keep the outside of your ice machine free of contaminants. Even if there are no contaminants in your ice supply, users who handle the ice can accidentally contaminate the ice if they have dirt on their hands. Mold and slime will also grow faster in a dirty environment since they feed off particles in the air and on the ice machine’s surface.
Mold and Slime
Mold and slime feed off the yeast in the air and love to grow in damp, dark places – like your ice machine. Although mold and slime aren’t dangerous to people, they will cause a health inspector to write a damaging violation.
Don't Forget About Ice Bin Cleaning
Ice bins are one of the most common places you’ll find mold and slime. It’s also where ice is stored. If mold or slime happens to fall into the ice supply and transfer to someone’s drink, you’ll likely receive a bad review.
How Much Does an Ice Machine Cost?
Depending on the size of your restaurant, a commercial ice machine can cost anywhere from $1,500 to over $10,000. If you’re purchasing a modular or stackable ice machine, you will also need to purchase an ice storage bin or dispenser to store the ice. There are also a couple of hidden costs involved with properly caring for an ice machine. Here are the most common:
If you want your ice machine to be able to keep up with your daily ice needs, it will require preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance helps to ensure all ice machine components are in working order. It also helps technicians to identify potential problems before they turn into expensive repairs. Manufacturers suggest 2 preventive maintenance visits a year. Ice machine maintenance costs around $300 per visit.
Depending on how severe the problem is, an ice machine repair can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as high as a few thousand. Here are a few examples of common ice machine repairs and their estimated costs:
- Hot Gas Valve Replacement - $600
- Expansion Valve - $600
- Compressor Repair - $1500
- Evaporator Repair - $2500
Keep in mind, if an ice machine is down for repairs, it’s likely not going to produce ice. If it’s a long repair, you’ll have to buy ice retail or from a delivery service.
Our All-Inclusive Bar Ice Maker Program Is the Way to Go
Our commercial ice equipment program is more than just an ice machine lease. Our standard subscriptions include 2 preventive maintenance visits to keep your ice machine in top shape. We offer additional maintenance visits for challenging environments like bakeries or breweries. We know that restaurant or bar ice maker issues happen at any time of day, and that’s why we include 24-hour customer support. We’ll call you when your machine is due for its next service and find the best time that works for you! We’ll even supply your backup ice if your ice machine is down for repairs.
Choosing a restaurant or bar ice maker is harder than it seems, but our Ice Machine Experts are here to help! We have years of experience sizing ice machines for restaurants across the country.
Our team of Ice Machine Experts is ready to help you choose the perfect restaurant or bar ice machine for your business.