Accessories

  1. Sushi for all!

    Sushi isn't just for traditional Japanese restaurants anymore. From French to haute cuisine, restauranteurs all over the country are experimenting with adding a sushi bar to their restaurant line up. And why not? Crude has long been a staple of fine dining, and the knife and flavor techniques used for sushi are a great showcase of talent for many chefs. Just make sure you're using the right equipment when handling delicate, raw materials - we have an excellent line of Hoshizaki cases to keep your sushi cold and fresh.
  2. Condensate Drain Pumps

    Drain PumpIce machines are made up of a lot of parts. One of these parts is a condensate drain pump, and it's an important part. If this pump goes bad, your ice machine could flood your kitchen floor! We're going to talk about what this pump does and about some of our pump models.

    If you put a cold drink outside on a hot day, the outside of the glass will begin to get wet from condensation. On a drink, it can make the glass slippery and make you drop it. The same principle happens in an ice machine refrigeration unit. The process of making ice can cause components to gather condensation. This condensation eventually gets heavy enough to drip down. This must be eliminated before it can cause damage.

    A condenser drain pump takes care of it. Condensing water usually falls into a drip pan which is emptied by the pump into a drain. In some cases the water can fall down directly into a lower drain, but often a pump is needed so water can flow from the ice machine into an existing drain line.

    Pumps are pretty similar between models, but each brand of ice machine has their own type of unit. The best thing to do is to select the model that matches your brand. You may also want to check your owner's manual to see if it is a user-replaceable part. You may need to hire a professional to install these properly.

  3. Cold Beer? At MY Chuck E. Cheese's?

    Cold BeerWhen some of our staff were young kids, we loved going to Chuck E. Cheese's. It was a delightful wonderland of animatronic animals and pizza that was divine, at least for a kid's tastebuds. It was one of those places which struck wonder in our hearts and we remember it fondly. As adults, we might have lost that wonder.

    So, Chuck E. Cheese's is putting in some bar refrigeration to serve beer and wine to its adult patrons who are there to watch their kids be kids. It’s an attempt to appeal to Millennial moms who need that little extra boost in the world. This comes from a statistic which says that kids want to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s once a month, but the average parent only wants to take them 3 times a year.

    So, they’ve changed their menu to offer gluten-free pizza and thin crust. They’re working on introducing other things for the adults who want to take their kids, including coffees and lattes. Yes, the beer and wine, too.

    What’s in the future? They’re planning on offering even more alcoholic options to their patrons, something which will hopefully make the impression on younger parents that the mouse is trendy once again. What do you think that they should offer to breathe new life into the chain?

  4. Tips For Choosing Ice Bags

    Summer is in full swing and the yearly demand for packaged ice is at its peak. Convenience stores, catering companies, marinas, hotels and other packaged ice distributors benefit from the seasonal rise in ice sales, but packaged ice sells throughout the rest of the year as well, especially around holidays.

    If you sell or provide ice in bulk, it’s important to know a few things about ordering and purchasing wholesale ice bags. There are many options in terms of size, types, materials and printing, so we’re here to give you a few tips on choosing the right plastic ice bags for your needs.

     

    Quality Matters

    Poorly manufactured ice bags cause problems - they can be difficult to fill and if the plastic is too thin they often break, making a mess and costing money. There’s no point in buying substandard ice bags just to save a few pennies.

    Quality ice bags are not expensive and the extra hassle and waste associated with cheap or flimsy ice bags isn’t worth the small difference in price.

     

    Basic Options

    There are three basic styles of ice cube bags: open top, drawstring and on wickets for automatic or semi-automatic ice bagging machines.

    Open Top Ice Bags - This type of ice bag features an open or “plain” top which is closed with a twist tie. These bags are available in 5 lb, 8 lb,10lb, 20 lb and 50 lb sizes with pre-printed labels.

    Drawstring Ice Bags - Built-in cotton drawstrings make these bags easy to close securely. They are also available in the standard 5 lb, 8 lb,10lb, 20 lb and 50 lb sizes with pre-printed labels.

    Wicketed Ice Bags - Ice packagers with automatic or semi-automatic bulk ice bagging machines use this type of commercial ice bag which is attached a wicket that holds up to 250 bags. The bags are opened manually or by compressed air and filled while on the wicket. Standard sizes are 8 lb, 10 lb, and 20 lb with pre-printed labels. Ice distributors also use single wound or centerfold sheeting film roll stock for certain types of high-speed automatic ice packaging machines.

     

    Regulations

    There are a few federal regulations regarding commercial ice bags that ice sellers need to be aware of.

    The FDA classifies ice as a food product, so basic FDA Food Code rules regarding sanitation and safety apply. An overview of the FDA regulations can be found here.

    There are also a few regulations regarding ice bag labeling. Basically, you can’t make inaccurate or misleading claims on ice bag labels. In other words, if you label it as ice made from “spring water,” it must indeed come from such a source.

    FDA food labeling regulations also require ice bags to display the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor of the ice.

    At International Plastics, all our plastic ice bags and film meet or exceed FDA and USDA requirements.

     

    EVA Additive

    Quality commercial ice bags, including the ones we provide, contain an EVA additive. EVA is a copolymer resin additive that helps keep ice bags from becoming brittle in freezing temperatures and also from tearing or puncturing.

     

    Custom Printing

    Custom-printed ice bags are a great way to promote your brand. You can personalize a stock design or have us create a unique design for your business. Either way, it’s an easy and inexpensive advertising method. At International Plastics, we have a range of pre-printed designs to which you can add your business name or logo, or let our dedicated design staff help you create your own custom label.

  5. Keep your Scoop Safe

    Ice ScoopIce scoops need respect. Why? They're a big route for contamination of your ice machine if they are used incorrectly. The same measures which you taken to protect food from contamination should be taken to protect the ice from contamination.

    Ice scoops not only help people dig for ice, but they also keep people from touching the ice directly if used right. Some models have hand guards to allow deep digging into your ice bin, but all care should be taken not to touch ice while using a scoop.

    These scoops should be outside of the machine rather than stored inside. Condensation can collect on the handle and drip into the ice bin if it is stored inside. Keep it outside. There are special racks you can buy to keep them near the machine.

    Ice scoops can also be the reason that your restaurant doesn’t get a perfect score on its inspection. “Scoops were not stored properly…” is a common complaint from inspectors all across the country. The other complaint is that people will occasionally use other items as ice scoops when the ice scoop is made for the purpose. “Bowls were being used as scoops.”

    So, remember when you’ve got an ice machine, you also need to keep the scoop safe. Your scoop is the point of contact between your hands and your ice. Make sure it stays clean.

  6. One Rude Guest Wrecks a Hotel Ice Machine

    Sanitize We talk a lot about sanitation on this blog because it’s so important. You never know when contamination will take hold in a bin. But sometimes it’s obvious, and a little gross. Many people fear using hotel ice bins just for this reason.

    A British man decided to take a trip to Orlando to visit Universal Orlando. He stayed in the Hard Rock Universal Orlando. He also got very drunk. While stumbling around the hotel, he decided that it would be a good idea to urinate in a hotel ice bin. He got caught of course. The police were called, shouting ensued, and the man was arrested for disorderly conduct.

    The hotel confirmed that the ice machine was removed so it could be cleaned and sanitized. Good call! No hotel guest would want to use an ice machine that they knew someone peed in. They may not even want to use it after it was cleaned and sanitized. Not much can be done about that.

    This is why many hotel ice dispensers don’t have open bins. While you can scoop ice faster out of a bin, it’s much more sanitary to use a dispenser. We don’t know the exact model of machine in the incident, but even if he did just pee into a drain line it would still need sanitization. Thankfully, this type of thing is very rare!

  7. Is your Ice Scoop Scratched?

    ice-scoop There is an essential accessory to every ice machine. Most people never even think about it until it’s missing. It keeps ice from becoming dirty. It fills bins and glasses without complaint. We’re talking about the humble ice scoop.

    If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ve read many articles about what happens when employees scoop ice with their hands. That causes bacterial infections that could dirty the entire bin, make your customers sick, and give your restaurant a black mark on a health inspection. Scooping ice with a glass is almost worse. Ever try to find broken glass inside of a bin of ice? It’s impossible to get it all. The whole batch must be dumped so the bin can be cleaned.

    One of the brands of scoop we sell is Browne Foodservice. They come in several different sizes and materials, have a finger grip handle, a round bottom, and a lovely polished sheen. They can be considered the best utilitarian ice scoop for the job.

     

    Take a look at your scoop. Is it made of plastic? Is it starting to scratch? Are you afraid it’ll break one day when you’re filling the ice bucket? Try a metal scoop instead from Browne Foodservice. And don’t use your hands!

  8. Key Points for Ice Bin Buying

    bin image - not ice One of the confusing parts about buying an ice machine is that the ice machine and the bin are normally two separate components. The reason for this is that different industries have different needs for storage.  An establishment which is fairly low volume needs a bin with less capacity than its higher-volume counterparts.

    When ordering a bin, you need to make sure that the ice machine you choose is compatible with it. A seal is formed between the machine and the bin to preserve the ice. The wrong combination could be costly.

    Another thing that differentiates a bin is whether or not an anti-microbial treatment has been applied to the surface. Some bins also have UV lights for additional protection. An ice scoop holder is also a good feature to look for. This improves sanitation and could prevent a mark on your next health inspection.

    When it comes down to it, the ice bin that you choose should be one that your workers are comfortable with. It must have enough capacity to keep up with demand, be large enough to enter easily, and easy to clean. Take a look through our list of ice bins here at Ice Machines Plus and give us a call if you have more questions.

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  9. Sanitize Your Ice Machine: Your Life Depends on It

    Sanitize Your Ice Machines We’re seeing reports of another ice machine at a VA hospital that’s testing positive for Legionnaires’ disease.  This time, it’s in Tampa at the CW Bill Young VA Medical Center. 

    A 64-year-old man died of pneumonia and also tested positive for the disease at the center.  The VA has mentioned that the man died of medical complications.  The hospital itself cannot confirm that the patient was exposed to the deadly bacteria while at the center.

    The VA and other hospitals do routine testing for the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease in order to prevent such an outbreak from happening.  It takes vigilance and a clean water system to make sure that these types of incidents don’t happen.

    At the VA, there were, “4.1 colony-forming units per milliliter,” and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration allows for up to 10 colony-forming units.  This particular VA hospital is stepping up in light of the results and going ahead with the cleansing of its water system.

    Cleaning and sanitizing your ice machine should be a regular part of the maintenance regimen for all facilities managers. The instructions for how to properly clean and disinfect your ice machines should be available in the operations manual. By taking a few steps toward prevention, events like the death of the 64-year-old man with pneumonia wouldn’t happen, or they would be minimized.  What’s in your water supply, or ice bin, right now? 

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  10. What Size Chip Warmer Do You Need?

    Chip Warmer Chip warmers are an essential tool in the arsenal of any Mexican restaurant.  Whether you’re talking about freshly fried (or baked) tortilla chips that just came out of the cooker or you’re looking at giant commercial grade bags of tortilla chips, that chip warmer will give your customers that feeling like their chips are coming out fresh no matter when they were cooked.

    The chip warmer you get depends entirely on the volume of your location.  If you need a large quantity, you’ll need something like the Carter-Hoffman 44 gallon warmer.  If you’ve got a restaurant where there are more patrons who want the hamburgers and you’re not placing free chips onto the table, you might be more inclined to go with the Vulcan 22 gallon capacity chip warmer

    How many chips do you need per chip basket?  That honestly depends on the size of the basket that you’re using, but assume that with each customer that you’re doling out between a pint and a quart of chips.

    Assuming that your chips are popular and that each table is getting a total of a quart of chips through both their meal and the freebies on the table, you’re able to serve 88 customers with a small chip warmer and 176 customers with a large one before you have to restock your delicious chips.

    How much salsa per person in a restaurant?

    Again, that depends on the size of the restaurant that you have.  Let’s assume that there’s at least 1 cup of salsa per person.  You can extrapolate from there, basing it on the average number of customers that you receive in a day.

    Once you’ve determined the volume of chips that you’ll need for your customers, the rest come easy.  Compare the specifications of the chip warmers with the space that you’ll need, and you’ll find the perfect fit for your restaurant. 

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