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Which Type of Ice is Right for Your Restaurant? Nugget, Cube, Bullet, or Pearl?

Finding the right ice type for your restaurant is a crucial step for new and existing restaurant owners. But with so many options, how are you supposed to choose the right one? We’re here to help you navigate the slippery path of ice types so your commercial kitchen serves up the right ice, all the time.

What's the best Ice Type For Me?

Commercial kitchens and restaurants don’t just need ice. They need ice with a very particular set of skills. Here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind as you look for an ice type for your restaurant.

Look for ice that is designed to fit the needs of the:

  • Drinks being served
  • People enjoying the ice
  • Volume of your restaurant’s business 

How do you know what type of ice is suitable for your restaurant? Don’t worry—we’ve got the answers. Ice is kind of our thing. 

But before we weigh the pros and cons of different ice types, it’s important to know a few things about ice makers. Chicken and the egg, you get it.  

Related: What Type Of Ice Machine Is Best For Your Business Brand? 

What You Need To Know About Ice Maker Machines

Commercial ice makers come in all shapes and sizes. Before you buy an ice maker, consider the importance of the following factors.

Type of Ice Machine

Portable Countertop Ice Machines

First, the smallest. The portable countertop ice machine is perfect for use at home, but it won’t cut it in the restaurant industry. It’s lightweight, tiny, and easy to pack into an RV or stash on a countertop. But with only 24-40 lbs of ice produced per day, it doesn’t keep up with the demands of a restaurant. 

Under-Counter Ice Machines

The step above a portable countertop ice machine is the under-counter ice machine. This is a larger machine with higher storage and production capacity, but it’s still probably not the right fit for your restaurant kitchen. Most under-counter ice machines still only produce about 50 lbs of ice per day, which is sufficient for the average household, but not a restaurant.

Commercial Ice Maker Machines

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the spotlight turns to the commercial ice machine. These ice machines produce ice in a blink, and have huge storage capacity so that your kitchen is ready for the dinner rush. Sure, these ice machines take up some space in your restaurant kitchen, but they’re a no-brainer for restaurants that want to operate at full capacity and keep customers happy.

Ice Production

How much ice does your commercial kitchen use every day? That’s something you’ll want to account for early on in your ice machine journey. Once you know how much ice you’ll need to have on hand, add a little cushion (7% is standard) just in case. Better safe than sorry, no?

Related: How Much Ice Does My Commercial Kitchen Need?

Once you know your ice requirements, look for commercial ice machines that meet your production and storage capacity. Most ice makers denote the daily production capacity in pounds per cycle in addition to how long each cycle takes. For example, an ice machine could produce 36 lbs of ice per day with a rate of 12 cubes every 6 minutes. When doing your ice machine research, keep an eye on these specs to make sure you’ll have enough ice at the right time. (If math isn’t your strong suit, give us a call, we’re happy to help you calculate this!)

Ice Maker Machine Price

How much do ice makers cost? Commercial ice makers can run over $3000, so you’ll need to budget your commercial kitchen appliances accordingly. 

If an ice machine isn’t where you want to invest your money right now, consider renting a commercial ice maker. You can get all the benefits of a high-capacity ice machine without the initial investment. At Memphis Ice, you can rent a commercial ice machine for as little as $4 a month. You can explore our ice machine rental program here.

Ice Maker Machine Price

Now we get to the crunchy part. The last (but still important) decision you’ll need to make before buying—or renting—an ice machine is what kind of ice you want to serve. And you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. Bullet, cube, nugget, flake, pebble—the list goes on. For most restaurants, bullet ice is common. But if you want pearl or “sonic ice,” you’re in good company, too. If all this has you wondering, “How do I decide what type of ice I should serve?” read on.

The Best Ice for Restaurants

Pearl and Nugget Ice

The first thing you should know is that there are a lot of different names for the same type of ice. Nugget ice, pearl ice—it’s the same thing. This is a universal favorite for drinks because of its lovely, chewable texture. This is accomplished through tiny pockets of air trapped in the ice as it freezes, giving it its crunchiness (and mass appeal). 

Pearl and nugget ice tend to melt pretty quickly, but many restaurants find that customers prefer it. Pearl ice is also pretty quick to produce, which means you’ll use a lot, but you’ll also have a steady supply.

Check out our line of powerful linear, modular, and under counter pearl machines from Ice-O-Matic.

Cube Ice

Cube ice is a classic for a reason. Cube ice tends to be larger, more dense than pearl ice, and slower to melt. There’s lots of room for customization with these machines, too. Most modular cube ice machines offer different cube size options, which you can easily switch between. 

Related: New From Ice-O-Matic: The CIM Series Modular Cube Ice Machine—Available Now

Cube ice is an excellent choice for restaurants because of its simplicity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Explore all our cube ice machines by clicking here.

Bullet Ice

Ah, bullet ice. Also known as gourmet ice, cylinder ice, circle ice, bullet ice is essentially a cylinder of ice with a hollow center. Bullet ice is also a staple in commercial kitchens, and the reason might just surprise you. 

Bullet ice has a secret super power: the hole in the center. Even though it doesn’t look like much, the empty center exposes liquids to more surface area than other ice types. The result? Super cool drinks, super fast. 

Related: Why Do They Serve Ice With Holes At Restaurants?

Because of the negative space in the center, bullet ice can be produced and harvested quickly, which is a big win in the fast-paced restaurant environment.

Check out all our ice machine offerings here.

Find The Ice You Need With Memphis Ice

At Memphis Ice, we’re crazy about ice. Not just ice types, but ice machines, ice machine repair, even ice history! We’re on a mission to supply your restaurant, bar, and commercial kitchen with the right ice, and to make sure you’ve always got the ice you need when you need it most. 

Contact one of our ice experts today. We’re always here to answer your questions, offer guidance, and point you in the coolest direction. Schedule a call today!

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