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