So, you have a great restaurant concept, but you want to start a bit smaller than a brick and mortar store. Food trucks have been growing in popularity as more social media savvy consumers utilize Twitter and Facebook to follow their mobile food stations and find gourmet meals at great price points. However, there is still a lot that goes into a food truck operations. Here's what you should know:
1/ Commissary, commissary, commissary. Even though you may be a mobile operation, you still have to practice strict food safety guidelines when working with the general public. You will need a commercial grade kitchen with current grade health inspections in order to operate your truck. Instead of opening your own, find a local one willing to rent out space. Most commissaries are in large warehouses and will welcome the additional business!
2/ Equipment, equipment, equipment. Although you can find a decent food truck second hand, make sure your equipment is top of the line. Especially in the summer months - and heat - you'll want an AC system and ice machines that can stand up to a large lunch rush. Your customers - and staff! will thank you for thinking in advance, and by planning early on, you can avoid gaining a bad reputation when faulty equipment breaks in the middle of a busy lunch rush. Equally important: a small heating device, open flame, and dishwasher. Everything must be scaleable and custom, so shop with us and secure the best possible equipment at the best price.
3/ Location, location, location. Where to go? Where the crowds are is an obvious answer, but there is more to a good location then simple volume. Make sure you have the proper permits and also that you are in an area known for its foodie scene. Food trucks thrive together - but if there's another grilled cheese truck in the park, consider going elsewhere. Fairs, festivals, and even food truck specific events are also great spaces for high traffic and exposure. If your town or city has an arts scene, or a sports stadium, consider looking into permitting to park outside before or after a big event. A large venue will draw in a big crowd!
4/ Marketing, marketing, marketing. Letting people know WHO you are is important for any restaurant, but letting them know WHERE you are is equally important as a mobile food truck! Keep your customers up to date via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Make sure your social media info is updated regularly and displayed prominently on your truck and marketing paperwork. It can be a fun to be elusive, but it's better to keep folks in the know, and if you develop a fan base, they will find you given the proper tools!
A dishwasher is a must in just about every restaurant, but some eateries need something with a bit more oomph. Take a bakery for example. Bakeries use a lot of large sheet pans, dough hooks, and other big items that wouldn't work well in a usual dishwasher. That's why there are special pot and pan washers for the heavy duty stuff.
Here's an example of one, the Insinger SW-25-F. This is a front-loading 25 pan capacity pot & pan washer, and it's quite big. The unit stands around 7 feet tall, 4 feet wide, and a little over 3 feet deep. The interior clearance is around 30”. So if you've got a lot of sheet pans, this unit should be able to get a lot of them cleaned at once.
But what about all that sticky dough? The Insinger SW-25-F has a built-in booster heater to get water very hot to loosen the dough, and each wash cycle takes around 5 minutes to complete. Pot & pan washers also use special nozzles to increase the water pressure so everything gets washed. Each cycle uses around five gallons of water.
If you are thinking about buying a pot & pan washer though, you'll need to check the voltage and amperage requirements carefully. They do use a lot of energy and you may need to wire in a special outlet for them. You can't just plug it in!
For more information about the Insinger SW-25-F, check out the product specification page.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, or so we’ve heard. What if you could have your cleanliness in just under 2 minutes? The Jackson Conserver commercial dishwasher does just that. This door-type dishwasher is a low-temperature phenomena that has a removable soap screen and a built-in waste accumulator to help ease concerns of busboys and dishwashers everywhere.
The low-temp means that the washer uses chemical sanitization. This is good for many reasons. Many dishes break when they go through a high temperature wash. Using chemical sanitizer also means that less water is used. Th e three built-in dispenser pumps allow you to use a range of chemicals for your preferred mix.
The Jackson Conserver was meant to be cleaned easily and quickly. The delimer switch makes the hard water deposits easy to remove. There’s also the scrap screen that can be easily cleaned and put back in to keep the dishwasher running well.
If you prefer other setups for your dishwasher, you can also make it a straight through or a corner type commercial dishwasher. It will adjust to fit your needs. With 39 racks an hour, the dishwasher can’t be beat.
So, you have that, easy cleaning stainless steel, chemical sanitizing, and plenty more features which help restaurant owners make the easy decision to choose the Jackson Conserver.
Call us crazy, but the first thing that some folks here at Ice Machines Plus think about when they think of bars is the equipment behind the bar. We might not care that the bartender can make a flaming Bob Marley, or put out the rainbow drinks, but we do want to make sure that the bartender is able to serve all of his or her patrons in the best time with the best tools for the job. And one of the most important tools is the undercounter dishwasher.
For those medium sized busy bars, one of the most potent tools that you can have on your side is the Moyer Diebel undercounter dishwasher. Having an undercounter dishwasher makes the whole experience of working behind a bar a little more workable – as you have near instant access to clean glasses.
The Energy Star certification means that you’re not using as much water or power as the other dishwashers, and it runs 24 racks per hour. In less than three minutes, you can have a whole rack of clean glasses ready for you to keep serving those patrons.
The coolest feature of the Moyer Diebel dishwasher is the on board booster heater that adds more heat to the equation. Not only do you get a good sterilization for your dishes, but you have more of a chance that all of the glasses will get clean. And a clean glass means a great drink.
Running a restaurant takes a lot of moving parts. It’s like a symphony of personnel, all of them doing their job (or jobs) to make beautiful kitchen music. There are a few folks who are players within that symphony who don’t necessarily get the praise that the concert master does. We’re talking about the dishwashers, the (sometimes) second tubas of the restaurant world.
While these guys aren’t necessarily going to be the ones whose names are on the placard out front, they’re still very necessary to the functioning of the restaurant. Think about what would happen if you didn’t have clean dishes on which to serve those customers? It would shut down pretty quickly. To do their jobs properly, though, they need a fantastic dishwasher on their side.
The CMA Dishmachines S-AH does the trick for medium sized restaurants. It finishes a rack every 1.5 minutes or so (40 an hour), giving that superperson of a dishwasher enough time to collect the dirty dishes from around the place. The CMA Dishmachines machine is suited for the job, as it’s rather easy to run and has features which make the unsung hero’s job of washing the dishes much easier than if they’d been doing it by hand.
- Blocks food and scraps from clogging the drain
- Purging system which cleans between runs
- Top mounted controls which mean little crouching
- Strainers to keep the lines clean
It might be said that there are very few who like washing dishes, but this machine makes it as painless as possible and keeps the symphony making inspired music.
If there is ice there will be dishes, and nowhere is this more evident than a bar. Bars go through lots of ice every day for mixing drinks. They also go through a lot of glassware that must be cleaned and sterilized between customers. That’s why a glasswasher is an essential piece of equipment for any bar.
A glasswasher is much like a dishwasher, but with a few differences. They’re much smaller than a standard dishwasher. Anything bigger than a long-stemmed wine glass won’t fit. The racks may hold only glasses or may have a section for saucers, but not plates. Different models may also have special features suited to the bar industry.
For instance, the Fagor AD-21W does a final “Manual Cool Water Rinse” for beer mugs. This leaves water on the mugs before they go into a glass chiller. Other models give users the choice between chemical sanitation or heat sanitation. Some come with booster heaters and others have it as an optional accessory.
Larger institutions that go through lots of glassware may also be interested in a pass-through model. This is much like a conveyor dishwasher, but made specifically for glassware. The Champion CG6 can handle 2,000 glasses per hour, yet is small enough that it can fit underneath your bar!
If all you’re washing is glasses and other small pieces, consider investing in a glasswasher instead of a dishwasher. You’ll save money on energy and water costs and you’ll also know that your machine is correctly designed to handle your fragile glasses.
Yesterday we talked about conveyor dishwashers and all their fancy features. Not many businesses need that much power though. What if you just need a simple dishwasher? How would you know?
The answer lies in how many racks you need to wash per hour. A standard dishwasher rack is a 3’ x 3’ piece of plastic much like a home dishwasher rack, but sturdier. The more racks a machine can wash per hour, the higher the price and the space necessary to operate the machine.
Most dishwashers have a minimum wash rate of 20 racks an hour, or a rack every three minutes. If you need to wash fewer racks than this, then your decision may be better guided by whether you prefer an undercounter model or a door-type model. This will depend on your kitchen setup. If most of your washing is done in the back next to a two or three-basin sink, you may be able to use a door-type model for efficiency. A small bar may choose to use an undercounter model, which is quite similar to a home dishwasher.
Other factors to consider when choosing a dishwasher include whether you prefer hot sterilization or chemical sterilization, how many amps your breaker box can support, and drainage options. Most restaurants prefer to do hot sterilization because the heat can also remove stains that low temperature options cannot easily clean.
Dishwashers come in all shapes and sizes for commercial settings, but one type stands out if you need a constant stream of clean. That type is the conveyor dishwasher. Think of it like a car wash for dishes. Dirty racks go on one end, clean dishes come out the other ready for reuse.
Some units are quite small, while others are very large. The size you’ll need depends on how many racks per hour you need to wash and whether you want additional components like a booster heater or a drying unit. One of our smaller units, the Fagor FL-200W-NB, can wash up to 150 racks per hour and is insulated for sound so it can be used in larger bars and restaurants. However, it does not have a booster heater.
A much higher-end model is the Champion 80 DRHDPW Energy Star unit. This system can wash 208 racks per hour. It has a prewash unit, a dual-stage rinse, and energy features to reduce the costs of the unit like its own hot water heater and automatic shutoff valves. There’s also a booster heater built in made of stainless steel.
If you’d like to get set up with your own conveyor dishwasher, check out our wide selection here at Ice Machines Plus. Can’t make a cold drink without a clean glass!
We recently had a real treat: an opportunity to stay at one of the hotels in the area. Being a supplier to the restaurant business, we can’t help but notice how people run their bars, restaurants, and other food service areas.
Since it was a trip for pleasure, we didn’t ask for a tour behind the scenes. What we did notice, however, was that on the Friday night that we went to the hotel bar, he was the busiest man in the house. He was taking care of folks for the playoff games, fielding questions from patrons, and simultaneously mixing drinks. Another thing we noticed was that there was a huge pile of glasses piling up in his 3-area undercounter sink.
For that kind of volume, our friendly bartender might have benefited from a Fagor AD-21W Undercounter Glass Washer. These machines do around 22 racks an hour, using .65 gallons of water for each run – much less than the undercounter sink.
The Fagor Undercounter Glass Washer also has an attached booster heater, meaning that our wonderful bartender wouldn’t have to worry about sanitization and burning his hands in the process (something nobody, much less bartenders, wants to do). Since he was handling some of the dinner dishes that were coming back from the bar’s patrons, he could have loaded those into the warewasher as well. He might have been enamored by the fact that washing dishes would only take a couple of minutes. Also, the noise level isn’t too bad to drown out the sound of the patrons.
Now, we’re not sure why our bartender didn’t have a Fagor undercounter dishwasher, but we imagine that there was a great reason. He was definitely as efficient as his equipment would let him… now if only he could have done something about the $10 margarita!
You might be taking great care of your commercial dishwasher, but there will come a time when all of the maintenance that you’re doing can’t keep up with the rate of deterioration. It will become necessary to replace your commercial dishwasher sometime, but it will give you some warning signs before it gives up the ghost.
There are three primary reasons to replace equipment:
- It’s breaking down too often
- It’s too old
- It no longer fits your needs
When you buy a new dishwasher, you’re looking at a good ten years or so of service. The warrantees last for a few years, but after a while the machine becomes a service liability. Those parts and belts which were covered under service contract might not be covered anymore… and parts are expensive.
You might be forced to weigh the use that you’re getting from the commercial dishwasher to the amount of trouble that it’s giving you. While it might be the evil you know, wouldn’t you rather have a machine where there’s no evil at all?
Manufacturers are constantly striving to better their own standards as far as energy efficiency and more. The dishwasher that you got ten years ago will not be as efficient as today’s models.
Also, your restaurant or bar might have grown to the point where you need to get something else because the dishwasher that you have no longer fits your needs. While it’s a great reason, it’s still a reason to get another dishwasher.
Getting another dishwasher doesn’t have to be a chore. There are a few considerations for choosing a commercial dishwasher need to make, but they’re easy-peasy. If you’d like some help choosing your next commercial dishwasher, let Ice Machines Plus help you.