A Guide to Restaurant and Bar Ice Makers in Chicago

Choosing a restaurant or bar ice maker for your Chicago business is not always easy. You have to consider how much ice you need each day, the type of ice cubes you need, and the amount of space available. You also need to consider the installation requirements, maintenance, and cleaning. This comprehensive guide will help you answer any questions about choosing the best commercial bar ice maker.

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A guide to commercial bar ice makers in Chicago

What Kind of Ice Machine Do I Need for My Bar or Restaurant?

Ice machines come in all shapes and sizes to fit virtually any bar or restaurant. Smaller restaurants with limited staff may want an ice dispenser. Many sports bars and family restaurants in Chicago need a high volume ice maker. Choosing the right restaurant or bar ice maker for your business will ensure that all of your customers' ice needs are taken care of.

  • Commercial Bar Ice Maker

    Full-Service Restaurants

    Full service restaurants typically need a larger ice maker to accommodate their ice needs. Larger, modular-style ice makers produce plenty of ice, but they also require an ice bin to store the ice. These machines offer versatility when it comes to ice production and storage capacity. We have restaurant and bar ice machines that range from 500-3000 lbs of ice a day.

    Learn More About the Different Types of Restaurant Ice Machines

  • Quick Service Restaurants

    Quick Service Restaurants

    Commercial ice dispensers are great for quick-service restaurants and fast-casual dine-ins. Customers can grab the ice they need for their drinks without help. Best of all, ice dispensers are hygienic because they don’t require a scoop to grab ice. These machines come with, or without an ice machine attached.

    Learn more about countertop ice dispensers

  • Bars and Cocktail Lounges Bars and Cocktail Lounges

    Many bars and cocktail lounges are working with limited space. An undercounter ice machine helps bartenders have access to ice without getting in the way. Undercounter ice makers measure under 41” tall to fit under bar tops and countertops. Employees can retrieve ice without assistance, so they can serve drinks fast.

    Learn More About Undercounter Ice Machines for Your Bar

How Do I Select the Right Type of Ice Cube?

The right type pf ice cube can really elevate a drink. Ice cubes are not just for show. They can also save you money in spills or keep delicate drinks cold without watering them down. The right type of ice will keep drinks cold and customers happy.

Commercial Bar Ice Makers in Chicago

Daily Ice Usage

The first step in finding your daily ice usage involves estimating how much ice your business uses in a day. You not only need to account for all the ice your customers use for drinks, but also the ice you use for food prep, bar setup, wait stations, or beer tubs. Commercial ice machines produce ice in small batches throughout the day. A 600 lb ice machine will take a full 24 hours to produce 600 lbs. of ice.

What Type of Ice Machine Condenser Do I Need for My Restaurant?

Your restaurant or bar ice machine's condenser is a vital component that allows it to make a batch of ice. When a condenser is overly hot, it will take longer to cool refrigerant – which means less ice for your business. Condensers come with a cooling system to assist in cooling refrigerant and preventing them from overheating. Restaurant ice machines come with three common types of ice machine condenser cooling systems.

Air Cooled Ice Machines

Air cooled condensers use the surrounding air to help cool refrigerant and push heat away from your restaurant ice machine. This process uses a fan that blows cool air over the condenser coils. These systems need plenty of space for hot air to escape into the environment. Without proper ventilation, the heat will linger around the machine and lower your ice production rate. These are the most common cooling systems you'll find in Chicago bars and restaurants because they are simple and cost-effective.

View Our Air Cooled Ice Machines

What Do I Need to Install a Restaurant or Bar Ice Maker?

Commercial Bar Ice Makers for Chicago Restaurants

We’ve serviced ice machines across Chicago and we know exactly how to keep your ice machine running smoothly. Our pre-installation checklist shows you what you need to provide to install a commercial bar ice maker in your business. If you have a challenging environment, give us a call and we'll help you find a solution.

Pre-Installation Checklist

Restaurant Ice Machine Cleaning and Sanitation

Ice machine cleaning and sanitizing is necessary to prevent the growth of mold and slime in your restaurant ice maker. A professional ice machine cleaning service can also remove scale from vital ice machine parts. Mold and slime can lead to a damaging health violation, while scale buildup can damage your ice maker, requiring expensive repairs.

  • Commercial Bar Ice Making Machines Chicago

    Regular Cleanings

    Regular cleaning helps to keep the outside of your ice machine free of contaminants. Even if there are no contaminants in your ice supply, users who handle the ice can accidentally contaminate the ice if they have dirt on their hands. Mold and slime will also grow faster in a dirty environment since they feed off particles in the air and on the ice machine’s surface.

  • Restaurant ice machines in Chicago

    Mold and Slime

    Mold and slime love to grow in damp, dark places - like your ice machine. They feed off of organic particles in the air, like grease and yeast. Chicago pizzerias are particularly susceptible to mold and slime growth. A health inspector will write a violation is they see excessive mold growth in your restaurant ice machine.

    How to Clean Your Ice Machine of Slime and Mold

  • Bar Ice Makers in Chicago

    Don't Forget About Ice Bin Cleaning

    Since mold and slime like dark, damp places, you need to pay extra attention to your ice bin. Since this is where you store your ice, there is a chance mold or slime can fall into the ice supply and transfer to someone's drink. While not dangerous, there is the chance you could receive a bad review.

    Simple Steps for Cleaning Your Commercial Ice Bin

How Much Does an Ice Machine Cost?

Depending on the size of your Chicago bar or restaurant, a commercial bar ice maker can cost between $1,500 to over $10,000. Modular or stackable ice machines will also require an ice storage bin or dispenser to store the ice. Properly caring for the machine includes a host of hidden costs. Here are the most common:


Restaurant ice machines require preventive maintenance to continue to run smoothly. Preventive maintenance keeps the internal parts of your ice machine in working order. Technicians can also identify potential problems before they turn into expensive repairs. Manufacturers suggest 2 preventive maintenance visits a year. Ice machine maintenance costs around $300 per visit.

Water Filters

Water filters prevent unwanted particles and sediment from entering your restaurant ice machine. Filters need to be replaced around every six months. Clogged filters can reduce your water flow rate and lead to smaller, malformed ice cubes. Ice machine water filter prices range between $15-$100 depending on the brand. Ice machines in a challenging water environment may require additional water filtration in addition to a standard sediment filter.


Repairs on a restaurant ice machine can run between a few hundred dollars or as high as a few thousand. It all depends on how severe the issue os. Here are a few examples of common ice machine repairs and their estimated costs:

  • Hot Gas Valve Replacement - $600
  • Expansion Valve - $600
  • Compressor Repair - $1500
  • Evaporator Repair - $2500

If it’s a long repair, your ice machine won’t be producing ice. You’ll have to buy ice retail or from a delivery service.

Our All-Inclusive Restaurant or Bar Ice Maker Program Is the Way to Go

Our commercial ice equipment program is more than just an ice machine lease. We include 2 preventive maintenance and cleaning visits in all of our restaurant ice maker leases. We also maintain 24-hour customer support so we can help with any ice maker problems that occur. No need to juggle cleaning appointments! We'll call you when your machine is due for its next service! If your ice machine is down for a long repair, we'll even supply your backup ice.

Choosing a restaurant or bar ice maker is harder than it seems, but our Ice Machine Experts are here to help! We have years of experience sizing ice machines for restaurants across the country.

Our team of Ice Machine Experts is ready to help you choose the perfect bar ice maker for your business.

Commercial Bar Ice Makers for Chicago businesses