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Don’t underestimate the importance of ice

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

One sight that can really get a restaurant-goer excited is that of a glistening, pristine,  perfectly formed … ice cube.

Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but ice really  is essential to almost every restaurant. It gets served to most guests, has to be stocked at all times, and must be stored in special, subfreezing conditions. SmartBrief recently asked Jeff Biel, a product manager at Scotsman Ice Systems, what restaurant owners should look for in ice machines.  Scotsman will be at Booth 4031 at the National Restaurant Association Show 2011, May 21-24.

How can an outdated ice machine impact a restaurant?

Outdated ice machine equipment is probably not energy- and water-efficient and does not feature the latest smart monitoring technology. An up-to-date machine will  alert operators to potential problems and give reminders for scheduled cleaning and maintenance.  Some models feature built-in antimicrobial protection to reduce the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, mold and algae.

What should restaurant owners consider when deciding which type of ice machine to buy?

The size and capacity of the ice machine determines how many pounds of ice can be made in a 24-hour period. To determine the amount necessary for an application, Scotsman offers several online calculators for cube, nugget and flaked ice.

An ice storage bin should be purchased to store the ice between harvest cycles. A bin that is too large might allow ice to melt, and a bin that is too small could result in an ice shortage at the worst possible time — when your restaurant is busy.

Space requirements should also be considered. For air-cooled ice machines, there must be adequate ventilation space. If space is tight, a remote-cooled ice machine will vent hot air to the roof, keeping indoor areas cool.

What’s the difference between a regular ice cube and a Scotsman ice cube?

Scotsman offers a full line of ice machines and ice forms, but one of the unique ice products we can enable a restaurant to provide is nugget ice, a chewable ice form. Nugget ice is made by compressing flaked ice into soft, chewable nuggets.

Nugget ice is a great way for businesses to differentiate their beverage program while lowering cost per cup. Most importantly, hundreds of Facebook groups and in thousands of tweets and status updates each month confirm that consumers say they like like nugget ice better than regular ice.

What are the essential types of ice that restaurants should have, and what are they used for?

Restaurants should choose ice forms based on their specific needs. Cube ice, the most familiar ice form, is ideal for high-volume establishments. It provides good liquid displacement and rapid cooling. It melts slowly compared to other ice forms.

Gourmet ice, with its unique shape and slow-melting characteristics, is perfect for serving high-end spirits. This large ice form ensures that patrons enjoy the true flavor of their beverage.

Flake ice is useful in blended drinks. It blends  quickly, reducing the time it takes to prepare each drink. In addition, this soft ice forms create less wear and tear on equipment compared to cube ice.

Nugget or chewable ice, like I mentioned before, is great for restaurants looking to differentiate their beverage program and lower cost per cup. It also holds similar properties to flake ice, making it good for blending.