Edit
Financing

Ice machines and dispensers

You can’t run a restaurant without ice—and lots of it. That’s why purchasing an ice machine is such a critical decision. If you are currently in the market for this piece of equipment, your first step is to analyze your ice usage; the second step is to consider your operational needs. Most likely, one big machine located in the back of the house will not be as effective as a couple of smaller ice makers situated at key work stations around the restaurant.

You can’t run a restaurant without ice—and lots of it. That’s why purchasing an ice machine is such a critical decision. If you are currently in the market for this piece of equipment, your first step is to analyze your ice usage; the second step is to consider your operational needs. Most likely, one big machine located in the back of the house will not be as effective as a couple of smaller ice makers situated at key work stations around the restaurant.

How much ice is nice?
Here are some formulas to help figure out your ice-usage needs. This will give you only a rough estimate; historical ice usage is your best guide. Don’t forget to factor in any future expansion or beverage menu changes.

Type of restaurant Ice usage needs:
Full-service restaurant : 2 pounds ice per customer
Cocktail lounge:  3 pounds ice per seat
Water service:  4 ounces ice per 10-ounce glass
Salad bar : 30 pounds ice per cubic foot
Catering : 1.5 pounds ice per person
Quickservice soft drinks:

5 ounces ice per 7- to 12-ounce cup
8 ounces ice per 12- to 16-ounce cup
12 ounces ice per 16- to 24-ounce cup


Cold Calculation
Consider these features and specs when making your buying decision.

Capacity
How much ice do you need? There are formulas to help figure this out (above), but first estimate your usage patterns. Does consumption go up on weekends? In warm weather? During happy hour promotions?

Speed
Some machines spit cubes out faster than others, but you can always stockpile ice in bins. Consider average use vs. peak needs.

Size
Where are you going to put this machine? Will the dimensions fit? Some models have narrow profiles to squeeze into tight spaces; others fit under counters.

Style
If the ice machine is
out in the dining area, looks are a priority. You can even coordinate finishes with your decor.

Filtration
Good water makes good ice. Consider installing a filter in the line running to the ice maker for better taste.

Ice type
One size—or shape—does not fit all. Cubes for cocktails aren’t ideal for soft drinks, and you’ll need shaved iced for salad or sushi bars.

What & where
Consider end use before you decide on location. Place a machine in the bar so the bartender isn’t lugging bins of ice at happy hour. Same goes for salad bars or water stations.

Integration
Some machines are designed to work with a soda fountain or water-filling station, which is a better solution than a stand-alone ice maker.

Modular
Certain machines can be stacked, feeding ice into the same bin or dispenser. This doubles production in
the same footprint.

Get the bugs out
Antimicrobial surfaces in key parts keep slime and scale to a minimum and can reduce maintenance costs.  

Noise
Some models are quieter than others—very important in customer areas.

Energy efficiency
Ice machines use lots of energy. Some are more efficient, thanks to compressor technology and insulation. Initial cost may be higher but these models offer a better ROI.

Air-cooled vs. water-cooled
Generally, air-cooled machines are cheaper but cost more to operate. Water-cooled models cost more but are quieter and more efficient. However, the latter use a lot of water, jacking up costs.

Remote compressors
A remote compressor locates noise and heat out of the way, usually on the roof.

Warrantees & service
Ice makers have a lot of mechanical parts that can break—be sure to cover yourself. Look for models that feature self-diagnostics to monitor performance.

Trending

More from our partners