The best ice bins for bars and restaurants are also convenient for your employees. Grabbing ice shouldn’t be a chore that can leave customers thirsty and waiting for service. Ideally, you want a bin that is easy to get to and allows for fast service.
There are a number of different ways bars and restaurants store ice. We’re listing some of the pros and cons of the most popular ice bins for bars and restaurants.
Undercounter Ice Machines
These setups are some of the best options for bartenders because the commercial ice bin comes with an ice machine attached. Virtually all under counter ice machines come with built-in storage. This makes serving ice behind a busy bar much easier than having to wait for ice from serving staff or a bareback.
An undercounter bar ice machine acts as a bartender’s personal endless supply of crystal-clear ice. These machines are also covered and insulated, so your ice supply stays safe and solid throughout a busy workday.
Like their name suggests, undercounter ice machines are designed to be installed underneath a bar or countertop. Like all commercial ice machines, they require electricity, and water supply, and drainage to run. If you want an undercounter ice machine and ice bin for your bar, but don’t have an outlet, water line, or drain access point available, you may need to call an electrician or plumber to install them.
It should also be noted that undercounter ice machines generally have a low production rate. If you need more than 500 lbs of ice for your business, You’re better off with a commercial ice machine and bin.
Commercial Ice Bins Modular Ice Machines
Modular ice machines require a bin or dispenser to store the ice produced by these styles of restaurant ice machines.
Commercial ice bins are best suited for wait stations and back of house. They’re not best suited as an ice bin for your bar. Modular ice machines are big, and few are small enough for behind the bar use. You’ll likely need serving staff to carry ice to the bar.
If you’re in the market for a commercial ice bin, make sure it’s compatible with your ice machine. You can’t install any sized ice machine on top of any sized bin. High volume ice machines require a high-capacity ice bin to store the thousands of pounds of ice thee machines produce.
You should also note that different manufacturing brands are rarely compatible with one another. If you own a Manitowoc ice machine and are looking to buy a Hoshizaki ice bin, you’ll need a custom adapter to make the setup work.
Commercial Bar Ice Wells
Ice wells are very convenient ice bins for bars where bartenders need to get to ice fast. Wells are often short enough to fit below the bar, so it’s perfectly visible to bar staff, but hidden from customers eyes. Bar wells are also come with a lot of bells and whistles that make service quick and easy. Most bar wells have a place for ice, but also areas where bartenders can store high-use spirits.
One downside to bar wells is that they don’t accommodate ice machines. Bartenders often need help for waitstaff of barbacks to grab ice from the kitchen ice machine and fill the well. This can be a hassle, especially if the bar is located far away from the commercial ice machine. Getting ice to the bar can also be difficult if the bar is busy with patrons.
Caring for Ice Bins for Bars and Restaurants
All ice bins are susceptible to mold or slime growth. Mold and slime thrive best in dark, damp environments. The ice bin for your bar or restaurant can quickly become a home to mold growth without routine cleaning.
While mold and slime are not particularly dangerous, they will get you a health code violation if a health inspector sees a lot inside your ice bin. It’s important that your employees clean your ice bin every week or so.
Our Easy Ice Subscriptions come with the best ice machines and bins from the leading manufacturers. We include professional ice machine cleaning and maintenance for a low, monthly charge. Looking for the best ice bin for your bar or restaurant? Our knowledgeable team of Ice Machine Experts can point you in the right direction. Contact us today!