Monthly Archives: August 2013

  1. Is Your Restaurant Ready? Winter is Coming...

    Those familiar with the Stark family from Game of Thrones know their words well - “Winter is coming” - and know that it is spoken like a warning, an alert to prepare for the harsh winter ahead. These words are often better received in the restaurant world. Usually, winter in the foodservice industry means one thing: an increase in business. People are cooped up as the days get shorter and daylight wanes away. Eager to escape, many find themselves at the local pub, bar, or restaurant more frequently than in the summertime. Combine this with the return of football season and the holidays, and most in the foodservice industry will realize an uptick in business in the coming months.

    With an increase in business on the horizon, there is no time better than now to make sure that all of your commercial restaurant equipment is up to par, and ready to handle an increased workload. We compiled this guide that notes some of the problems that may befall major key pieces of equipment - equipment that your restaurant would not be able to survive without. Some of these issues may develop over time simply due to prolonged use. Other issues may appear with little or no warning. In some cases, we offer solutions or products to help. In other cases, we refer to resources that will be able to help fix your problems. Sometimes restaurant equipment can be salvaged with a replacement part or a thorough cleaning. In other instances, it is better to replace the equipment entirely.

    Kitchen Hood / Exhaust System

    Dirty Restaurant Hood

    Over time in the commercial kitchen, grease may build up in the exhaust hood. This system was designed to remove grease and hot air from the kitchen. If left unclean, it can pose a huge fire risk. Without a properly functioning hood, grease may also impact functions of your kitchen equipment and the longevity of appliances in the kitchen. Your hood exhaust system should be inspected regularly by a trained and certified professional to determine fire risk. The inspector will also be able to tell you if or when a cleaning will be required. Usually, the hood is scraped clean, and then washed with chemicals to break down grease. We found an excellent source in IKECA that answers many of the questions regarding hood and exhaust system cleanings and inspections. They also provide information on how frequently you should clean your hood based on busyness of your establishment.

    Deep Fryer Won’t Heat Up

    Many restaurants are in possession of more than one deep fryer, but smaller establishments may have only one on which they rely. If that deep fryer shuts down or won’t heat up, these businesses may suffer greatly. To attempt to fix this problem, here are a few possible solutions. First, turn off the power and gas! The fryer may need to be reset, and if after that it does not heat up, the oil levels should be checked to make sure that the oil is at the minimum level. If it is not, then you should add more to the fryer. The fryer’s heating element may also be worn out, among other parts.

    Ice Machine Not Making Ice or Not Making Enough Ice

    No Ice in Ice MachineAir and water temperature can greatly affect ice production, so if you haven't installed your ice machine in a cool environment, this could be the root of the problem. Like refrigerators, ice machines require the condenser fan to operate to keep the compressor cool. If the condenser coils are blocked, or riddled with dust, dirt, or grease, your ice machine may stop functioning properly. If this is the case, sweeping out coils with a brush, or wiping them down with a wet cloth may be enough to get your ice machine back on track. If this doesn’t work, you may need to call the manufacturer to find someone licensed to service your ice machine. We recommended that you thoroughly clean your ice machine a minimum of every six months- ideally before and after your busier season (aka right now!) In this article, we detail some of the problems that may occur if you do not regularly clean your ice machine.

    Ice Tastes Bad

    To improve the quality of your ice, you have to go straight to the source which is of course, the water intake. Water quality may be affected by many things, but in every situation, it can be improved with the addition of a quality water filter. As we mentioned earlier, your ice machine also requires regular cleanings, and if it has not been cleaned in a while, there is a good chance that mold or slime has already started to build up inside. This can also affect the flavor, quality, and consistency of your ice cubes. Cleaning solution can be found at Ice Machines Plus, along with plenty of water filters as well. Since beverages are usually sold with higher markup, it is imperative that the ice used in them not alter or negatively affect the flavor of the drinks served.

    Refrigerator / Freezer Won’t Stay Cold

    Broken RefrigeratorSimilar to your ice machine’s problem, the condenser coils may require a simple cleaning. Vacuum or wipe away dirt and dust to see if this solves the problem. The coils should also not be blocked or inhibited in any way. (I found this to be a frequent problem with our glass chilling cooler in my bartending days). The refrigerator should be disconnected before cleaning the coils. Your refrigerator may also not be closing properly. If the rubber door seal is warped, cracked, or peeling, cold air may be finding a way to escape the cabinet. Your commercial refrigerator should be kept between 35-40 and 40 degrees, and your commercial freezer should remain between 0 and 5 degrees.

    If none of these above solutions help your problem, you may have a compressor or condenser issue. The compressor may overheat if your condenser is unable to cool adequately. The problem could also be as simple as the thermostat not reading temperatures correctly. If the thermostat doesn’t know the correct temperature, it won’t know to adjust the temperature. Most refrigerators will automatically defrost so coils do not freeze. If the defrost cycle stops, the evaporator coils may freeze up, and the refrigerator will not stay cool. In this case, you will be required to manually remove or defrost the ice.

    Your evaporator fan and condenser fan are also both vitally important to the proper operation of your refrigerator or freezer. The evaporator fan circulates cool air through the fridge, while the condenser fan helps keep the compressor cool and operational. Any malfunction can cause compressor to stop working and overheat. And, if none of these issues seem to be cause of your problems, check and make sure no one tripped over or unplugged your appliance’s cord!

    Gas Ranges and Commercial Oven

    In most cases, the restaurant range and the commercial oven are the backbone and cornerstone of your kitchen. They are used to create almost every meal, or at least a component of every meal. These large pieces of equipment feature many moving parts and components, however, which means that there is more that can go wrong.

    Winter is coming, and it won't be long before it is felt in the weather, and in your restaurant. Just as you wouldn't prepare for a snowstorm without a shovel, you shouldn't prepare for an increase in business without properly working equipment. For new commercial restaurant equipment, especially a new ice machine, look no further than Ice Machines Plus.

    Don't go into the busy season unprepared. Get your kitchen, your bar - your entire restaurant - ready and capable of handling the upcoming winter.

  2. If It Must Be a Water Cooled Ice Machine, It Must Be...

    Water in GlassNowadays, water conservation is more important than ever. With a little research, you can find that around 780 million people lack access to improved drinking water supplies and 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.¹ Those of us with access to clean water would be mindful not to waste such a precious resource. In the past, we’ve noted that water cooled ice machines are not only an expensive idea, but a wasteful one as well. Water cooled ice machines keep their condensers cool by using water and running it over the condenser and then purging it from the ice machine. In a single day, the largest water cooled ice machine may run through over 5,000 gallons of water or more when operating at maximum effort. That number adds up very quickly, especially if the ice machine is in use every day.

    We understand that some businesses simply have no other option and must use a water cooled ice machine to keep ice production consistent. With this in mind, we figured we could assist in finding out which water cooled ice machines use the least amount of water in both the ice making process AND to keep their condensers cool. Water cooled ice machines use water for two different reasons. Potable water is the term given to the water that will be frozen and consumed. It is run over the evaporator plate, and in the end it is frozen and usually used for beverages in bars and restaurants. Condenser water is the water used to keep the condenser from overheating. If the condenser is too warm, the ice machine may not be able to make ice. In most water cooled ice machines, water is cycled through once, then purged from the ice machine.

    In order to thoroughly examine ice machines from each major company, we broke the ice machines down into three categories: Low-output undercounter ice machines, 500 pound ice machines, and 1,000 pound ice machines. We looked only at cube producing ice machines, since they are most common in the foodservice industry. We also went into this project almost completely blind, so the results produced were new to us, and new to the industry. Only Scotsman made a claim about their water use, stating that their Prodigy ice machines use less water and electricity than the competition, so we were eager to test their claim.

    We looked at each ice machine as if it were producing an equal, set amount of ice, since very few models produce identical amounts of ice. The values which we compared were at 100 pounds, 500 pounds, and 1,000 pounds. We also looked at which water cooled ice machine performs the best at higher temperatures since water cooled ice machines are almost exclusively operated at elevated temperatures. We were not concerned with which ice machine produces the most ice in a stressful environment (you can buy a larger ice machine for more production), but rather which produces ice the most consistently (closest to its listed maximum production) when temperatures increase. This is called the AHRI rating, and it is measured when incoming water is at 90 degrees, and ambient air is at 70 degrees. This should be a key piece of information sought when assessing the quality of any ice machine.

    Note- In the chart, the ice machine that performed best (i.e. used the least amount of water, had the highest output, etc.) was highlighted in green, and the machine that performed the worst was highlighted in red for easier comparison.

    Water Cooled Ice Machine Water UseIf we examine this chart closely, we find that Scotsman ice machines do use the least amount of potable water during the ice making process, but in terms of water used to cool the condenser, they are not nearly as conservative. Hoshizaki repeatedly uses the least amount of water to keep their condensers cool, and in most cases, Hoshizaki uses the least amount of total water in the ice making process. Only when we get to the larger ice machines does Ice-O-Matic take over in terms of water use. But Ice-O-Matic takes over in a huge way, with their water cooled, 1,000 pound ice machine using much less total water than any of the others. This can make a huge difference for someone with upper level ice requirements who is looking for a relatively conservative water cooled ice machine.

    One thing we took away from this study was the way Hoshizaki’s water cooled ice machines perform in adverse conditions. When temperatures increased, Hoshizaki’s ice machines saw their output decrease by the slimmest of margins, losing only a small percentage of their ice production. Scotsman frequently saw their ice machines' production fall by the greatest margin, despite using the second highest amount of water to cool the condenser. This is one of the most important factors to consider, since water cooled ice machines are meant to produce ice when temperatures are higher. So, while Scotsman uses the least amount of potable water, they use by far the most water to keep their condenser cool, negating much of their otherwise conservative nature.

    Despite Scotsman’s claim regarding their water use, it appears that Hoshizaki ice machines are the best choice if you must choose a water cooled ice machine. Their water cooled ice machines use the least total amount of water during the ice making process and to keep the condenser cool. Meanwhile, their ice machines maintain the most consistent ice production when temperatures rise.  While Hoshizaki's and Ice-O-Matic's ice machines clearly use less water than the others listed, all of these ice machines will consume and waste a great deal of water over their lifetime. If you would like to keep costs low, consider a remote air cooled ice machine, which also tends to operate more consistently at higher temperatures since the condenser can be relocated outside, or to a cooler environment.

    Water cooled ice machines are not a requirement for every business, but some simply have no other option. We recommend looking for an ice machine that features an Energy Star label for further savings, energy efficiency, and rebate opportunities.  Refer to the infographic below for a few more interesting facts about water, and to see the aforementioned water cooled ice machines compared side by side. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or give us a call! We're always here to help.

    1. http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-your-drinking-water

    Water Cooled Ice Machine Water Use - InfoGraphic

  3. Five Appliances to Consider for Your Next Semester

    It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter. Nights are a little cooler, and summer vacation is winding down. This can only mean one thing – No, not that football is almost back, but that the new school year is on the horizon. In order to ready yourself or your college student for the upcoming semester, we compiled five of our most popular items that will fit perfectly in the dorm room, frat house, or college apartment. Whether you need an ice machine for your “up-all-night” events, or require a compact refrigerator for your dorm room, Ice Machines Plus has something to suit you perfectly.


    Ice-O-Matic GEMU090GEMU090- Nugget Ice Maker. Those three words should be enough to get you interested. Now you can have the most popular ice in America in the comfort of your own room. This ice has been made extremely popular by Sonic, Zaxby’s, and Taco Time. With the GEMU090, you don’t have to go far to get your favorite kind of ice. You’ll also quickly become the most popular person in the area when news spreads about your possession of one of the coolest undercounter ice machines around. This ice machine makes a decent amount (85 pounds) of ice every day too, so you can go ahead and share the wealth if you desire. The GEMU090 stores around 22 pounds of ice in its self-contained bin, so it takes about six hours to fill completely.

     

    Ice-O-Matic ICEU150ICEU150- If this ice machine was a former president, it would speak softly and carry a big stick, because this is one of the smallest, quietest ice machines available… but it packs quite a punch in terms of ice making. Measuring only 24 inches wide, the ICEU150 is the slimmest commercial grade undercounter ice machine, but it has the ability to produce up to 174 pounds of ice per day. No other ice machine in its class comes close to matching this type of production. If you need an ice machine for a fraternity or sorority house, don’t have a lot of space, and have limited funds, this is one of the best options you can find.

     

     

    U-Line ADA Compliant Undercounter RefrigeratorU-Line ADA24RGLB-13- You’re going to need a quality refrigerator to keep your beverages cold, and if your fridge looks anything like mine did in college, you may need a backup to keep additional beverages cool. With the ADA24RGLB-13, that is exactly what you will receive. This compact refrigerator can fit nearly anywhere as it stands 32 inches tall and just 24 inches wide. It also makes use of a feature called convectional cooling, where air is fanned and forced throughout the cabinet to ensure that all of your drinks stay cool and at a consistent temperature. The ADA24RGLB-13 from U-Line is ENERGY STAR qualified, and can be set to remain at any temperature from 34 to 45 degrees.


    Manual Ice Crusher from Master of LifeMaster of Life Ice Crusher- If you love crushed ice but are tired of banging a bag full of ice with a hammer to get the desired outcome, maybe you should consider this manual ice crusher from Master of Life. Simply operated, the operator need do nothing more than turn a handle to get the crushed ice that is desired. This ice crusher is excellent for making frozen margaritas or strawberry daiquiris for a fancy night in. Crushed ice also melts more quickly, so it cools drinks faster, making this an affordable, quality investment, especially on those warm late autumn or early spring days (or every day at Arizona State).

     

    U-Line BI95 Undercounter Ice MakerU-Line BI95B-00- This ice maker from U-Line isn’t going to produce like the two aforementioned ice makers, but it is one of the most compact units available at Ice Machines Plus. This makes it an incredible convenience to own, as it measures only 25 inches high and 14 inches wide. The BI95 produces up to 23 pounds of ice per day and stores 12 pounds in its self-contained bin. This ice machine costs almost nothing to operate too, using less energy than a 75 watt light bulb. If you’re not going to be throwing parties on a nightly basis, this ice machine should suffice perfectly for your day to day ice needs.

     

     

    These five appliances are sure to help cure the back to school blues felt by many at this time of year. Whether it’s your first year away and the dorm life seems a bit mundane, or you are the head of your fraternity and want to make a splash with a new addition, these five products should receive a bit of consideration. We can guarantee that the purchase of a new ice machine (especially the GEMU090 or ICEU150) will greatly increase your popularity and notoriety around campus.

  4. A Closer Look at Ice-O-Matic

    Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine LogoIce-O-Matic is an ice machine company based out of Denver, Colorado. For over 60 years, they have been producing quality commercial ice machines for use in homes and businesses across the country. There is more to Ice-O-Matic than simply ice machines however. They are involved in the Green Releaf effort, in partnership with American Forests. They are the only company to offer ice machines with "Top Air Discharge", which we will elaborate on later. Their ice machines offer more ice per dollar spent than any other ice machine company in the country, and they also offer the longest warranty in the industry! If your interest isn't mildly piqued, you may want to check your pulse... Continue reading to find out what separates Ice-O-Matic even further from the competition.

    More Ice for the Price

    stack of moneyThis slogan was developed by Ice-O-Matic as a way to express their theory that, no matter the reason someone buys an ice machine, the main purpose of the ice machine is the same- to make ice for your home or business. Some companies will lead you to believe that you need an onboard computer with a display screen to get the ice you desire. Not Ice-O-Matic. They developed their ice machines to excel at one thing – making ice. In almost every case and when compared under controlled conditions, Ice-O-Matic ice machines make more ice than similar, competing models, indeed offering more ice for the price in nearly every instance.

    Ice Making Simplicity

    In conjunction with the ability to make a great deal of ice, Ice-O-Matic does not complicate the ice making process with unnecessary additions or features. They make strong ice machines, and are the known for their high quality constructed evaporator plates. It is known that some companies actually buy evaporator plates built by Ice-O-Matic for use in their own ice machines. Ice-O-Matic ice machines are created with a simple construction, but this does nothing to negate the quality of their ice machines (which is probably why they offer the longest conditional warranty in the industry!) With seven years of evaporator coverage (with the purchase and replacement of a suitable water filter), Ice-O-Matic beats the next closest warranty by two years! That shows confidence in your ice machines.

    Ice-O-Matic and Energy Star

    Energy Star LogoIce-O-Matic makes it a point to offer a wide selection of Energy Star qualified ice machines. These ice machines will traditionally use less water and electricity than standard, non-Energy Star qualified ice machines. In many areas, the ownership and use of Energy Star qualified appliances will qualify your business for monetary rebates, which can help offset the cost of operating your ice machine greatly. With Energy Star products, there are many winners. Your business wins by saving money. You win by earning a rebate. And the environment wins when people purchase and make use of eco-friendly appliances.

    Quick Ship Items

    Currently, Ice-O-Matic is the only company that offers this option to their customers. Anyone who owns or operates a business that requires ice knows that if your ice machine goes down, you need ice as quickly as possible. Not in a few days. Not in a few weeks. With Ice-O-Matic's Quick Ship option, you can get select ice machines in 48 hours or less! No one else offers any sort of incentive remotely close to this.

    Ice-O-Matic, American Forests, and Green ReLeaf

    Ice-O-Matic Green ReLeaf IconIce-O-Matic’s partnership with American Forests is well documented. Through their combined efforts, Ice-O-Matic and American Forests developed the Green ReLeaf program to aid in the reforestation of the country. In 2009 Ice-O-Matic announced that for every ice machine sold, they would plant a tree in order to help offset the carbon footprint and CO2 emissions from their Denver factory. Ice-O-Matic and American Forests note that when all of these planted trees are fully grown, they will provide enough oxygen for over half the population of the United States (around 160 million people!). Many large companies take part in charitable efforts like this (Scotsman Ice partners with the Women for Water Campaign), but few focus on extreme, long-term efforts the way Ice-O-Matic has.

    Cost of Ownership

    Here's something about which we can all get excited: Cash! Especially when there is more in your pocket. With no on-board computer, fewer electronics, and a simplified ice making process, Ice-O-Matic not only costs less up front, but the cost of ownership is lower as well. For those that must operate within a strict budget, Ice-O-Matic is the best commercial ice machine one can buy in terms of quality for price.

    Notable Ice-O-Matic Ice Machines and Features

    Top Air Discharge – Ice-O-Matic is the only company to offer this convenient feature. Ice-O-Matic ice machines with top air discharge require no minimal side clearance as the machine releases air from the top. Hot air is blown up, not out at workers or equipment too, so it is less likely to affect the performance of your employees, or the appliances nearby. If your ice machine is located in the kitchen, it can greatly add to the heat, especially if it is blowing directly at your employees. Top air discharge helps alleviate this stressful situation.

    The GEMU090- Presently, this is the best commercial-grade, undercounter nugget ice machine available. It has been approved for outdoor use and residential use. Since Scotsman’s NU130 was retired (RIP), this undercounter ice machine has taken over in its place. If you are familiar with the ice served at Sonic, Zaxby's, and Taco Time, you know how popular this ice is. This ice machine is great for dorm rooms, in the home, or in a bar/lounge area. Your friends used to come to your house to see you… now they'll come to see your ice machine.

    ICEU150- This is the undercounter ice machine that gives you the most bang for your buck. It makes the standard ice cubes or half size cubes. It is also one of the slimmest undercounter ice machines available, and makes the most ice when compared to those in the same class. If you have a bar or lounge in your home, take frequent trips that require ice in coolers, or have a hobby that frequently requires ice (fishing, camping), the ICEU150 should get a good deal of consideration. Both the ICEU150 and the GEMU090 can be found at Ice Machines Plus.

    Buying an Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine

    If you're interested in a new Ice-O-Matic ice machine, you can find them readily available at Ice Machines Plus, at the lowest possible price. You may be even to talk the sales folk down a few bucks, but don't tell them where you heard that. Ice-O-Matic ice machines are reliable, well-built, and relatively inexpensive. Call us or browse away to find the perfect Ice-O-Matic ice machine for your home or business right now.

  5. Embrace the Ice Machine, Bag the Bag Buying.

    Say No To Bagged ice Did you know that it costs more than twice as much money to create pennies and nickels than the actual penny and nickel are worth? This seems a bit unreasonable – we’re in the midst of one of the worst financial crises in recent memory, yet no one can figure out that if it costs more to create a product than the product's actual worth, then we should probably find a new means of completing the process – or eliminate it altogether. Rather than get your blood boiling over something you can’t control however, why not seek an alternative solution in an area over which you have more control, and also save yourself some money over time – with an ice machine that eliminates your need to purchase bagged ice forever.

    Bag of Ice CubesInflation and price increases affect everyone from the top to bottom in this country. When a three pound bag of ice costs three dollars or more at the neighborhood convenience store and you need 50 pounds of ice, it may be time to seek an alternative method of procuring your favorite ice. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys entertaining, throwing parties, and having guests over, you may have had to deal with the dreaded bags of ice before. There is no time better than now to consider a small, in-home ice machine or ice maker to eliminate the headaches associated with continuously buying bags of ice.

    The problems that come with constantly buying ice extend beyond the price. How many times have you bought ice only to run out earlier than expected, and had to leave to pick up more? Perhaps it is difficult to gauge the amount of ice you need, and consistently wind up dumping and wasting ice at the end of your events. With a self-contained, undercounter ice machine, all of these issues become a thing of the past. Fresh ice is created daily, and you are allotted a convenient bin in which to store your ice- no bags, no wasted ice, no running out of ice. Undercounter ice machines are perfect for those with bars in their homes, those who like to entertain, or participate in events that require ice, like sports, camping, or fishing. An in home ice machine is also a great convenience if the power goes out, as you can easily store your perishable items for a longer period of time.

    You’ll quickly find that, with the money you save by not having to drive around and buy ice on a regular basis, an undercounter ice machine can pay for itself within the first few years. They also produce much higher quality ice. The cloudy, broken, air-filled chunks of ice found at your local gas station just can’t compete with the quality of ice produced by today’s undercounter ice machines. These machines make a variety of ice styles, from the crystal clear, solid, gourmet ice, which is composed of nearly 100% water, to the lovable, chewable nugget ice (like that found at Sonic or Zaxby's). Of course, you can always settle on the traditional full or half sized ice cubes too, if that style suits you better.

    Ice-O-Matic ICEU300 Undercounter Ice MachineOne of the best assets of the in-home ice maker is its size. Most of the ice makers at Ice Machines Plus are incredibly compact, with some measuring as slim as 15 inches wide, while standing less than 34 inches tall. With this smaller size comes a slightly reduced output, but even the smallest undercounter ice maker can still make more than 50 pounds of ice per day. The largest undercounter ice makers can make over 300 pounds of ice in a 24 hour period (like the ICEU300 featured to the right) and all of the ice makers and ice machines listed at Ice Machines Plus are built with commercial quality, designed to last for years. That's what makes owning one of these units a great investment for anyone that requires ice on a frequent basis.

    You may not be able to stop the wasteful minting of coins that have lost most of their value, but if you’ve been stuck throwing away money on bagged ice month after month, now may be the time to consider a positive change. A new undercounter ice maker is a great investment for the future, and will provide a convenience in your home unlike any other appliance. Consider the selection of both residential undercounter ice makers and commercial undercounter ice makers for your home or business, available at Ice Machines Plus.

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