Frozen drinks are a year-round hit (even on the coldest Midwest winter days); they can also be a low-maintenance and profitable menu item for virtually any kind of food-service business: restaurants, concession stands, gas stations, and even cafeterias.
The right frozen drink machine is the key to offering all those customer favorites (slushies, granitas, smoothies, margaritas, etc.), but choosing the right machine comes with its own list of questions.
Where will we be keeping the frozen drink machine? Do we need a self-serve machine?
A bright and colorful frozen drink machine increases the amount of impulse buys, which is why the aesthetics of a frozen drink machine can be almost as important as the functionality. This is especially true if the slushie machine is utilized as a self-serve machine. Even machines that are located right behind registers should be eye-catching enough to attract the attention of customers.
In addition to the aesthetics, the future location of the machine is important because of ventilation. Most machines need space directly behind the machine for proper ventilation to keep the drink mix cooled and produce a consistent, high-quality product.
Finally, if the room for a frozen drink machine is tight, or if a business is planning a kitchen layout, owners and managers should consider the dimensions of the machine. Frozen drink machines typically come as countertop and floor units. The floor units do come with the advantage of being fairly mobile; most floor frozen drink machines have casters that allow the machine to be moved and locked in place. Compact countertop drink machines come in sizes small enough to fit in even the tightest spaces.
How much product will we sell? How many flavors do we want to offer? Do we want to offer margaritas or a frozen alcoholic drink?
The answer to the first question relates directly to the number of hoppers and frozen drink machine capacity. Owners and managers should estimate the number of drinks expected to be sold each day. Frozen drink machines volumes range from a few quarts to many gallons (which are sometimes labeled as quarts-divide the number by 4 for an accurate gallon count). Owners and managers can start to answer this question by deciding what size slushies or margaritas they are adding to the menu.
In addition to the total capacity, owners and managers should also consider the amount of flavors they want to offer. Frozen drink machines come with as few as one hopper or as many as four. Each hopper can hold a different flavor which may be more appealing to customers.
If one of the frozen drink machines is going to hold an alcoholic cocktail or margarita, owners and managers should take extra care to make sure that the machine can reach a low cooling temperature required for alcoholic drinks. Some specialty drink machines already come with this feature, such as a margarita machine or Zamboozy.
What features do we need? Can the machine be easily cleaned?
One of the biggest perks of a frozen drink machine is that they are made to produce a quality product without a ton of maintenance. Some machines come with controls that allow operators to control the thickness of the finished product.
Other frozen drink machines come with indicator lights that allow employees to easily see when mix is low and needs to be added. In some machines, maintaining a steady level of slushy mix is essential because a low level exposes the auger (which mixes the mix) which can cause permanent damage.
One of the most important features is the ease of cleaning. Most slushie machines do not require a frequent cleaning, though businesses that use frozen drink machines to offer dairy products should clean the machine daily. Some machines come with features and minimal parts that make the machine fairly maintenance-free. For a full list of machine specifications, owners and managers can contact a local food equipment professional to be matched with the right frozen drink machine for their business.