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Home // Shaved Ice University | Resource Center // Vending Setups // 25 Shaved Ice Business Essentials
Shaved Ice University
25 Shaved Ice Business Essentials

25 Shaved Ice Business Essentials

Deciding what items are necessary when planning your vending setup can be tedious. Here’s the breakdown of items we feel are essential to operating a successful shaved ice or snow cone business. Keep in mind – some of the equipment listed may or may not be required by your local health department. These are simply our suggested must-haves when opening your business. Consult with your local health officials for requirements in your area.

Enough of the small talk – let’s get started. You can use this as a checklist as you establish your business.

Stainless Steel Three Compartment Sink – This commercial type sink is found everywhere in the foodservice industry. The heavy-duty sink is used to wash, rinse and sanitize all your food utensils. The sink usually has to be large enough to wash your largest container or utensil.

Hand Washing Sink – This is a dedicated sink that is used for hand washing. Health departments generally do not allow a three-compartment sink to double as a hand washing sink.

Mop Sink – Often found in permanent locations only, this mop sink is only used for cleaning your mops and mop buckets. Typically you find these outside of the building on a back wall with hot and cold water access.

Easy-to-Clean Walls, Floors and Counters – All floors and walls need to be smooth and cleaned easily. FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) paneling can be found at most local building supply stores. Standard vinyl flooring will usually pass inspection and Formica is acceptable for most counters. Whichever surfaces you choose, be sure that the material will not absorb any moisture. Unfinished rough wood or plywood will often not pass health inspections. Be sure to ask your local Health Department for suggestions.

Counter Space – Be sure to have adequate counter space in your shaved ice business. You will need enough room for a machine, flavors and a flavor mixing area. Usually, the more counter space you have, the better off you will be. A counter depth of at least 25 inches is recommended, however, a 30-inch depth is ideal.

Serving Window – Most shaved ice businesses will have one or two sliding serving windows that are used to take and hand out orders. Make sure that you have some counter space near the window dedicated to taking orders. Oftentimes, these serving windows are large enough to allow customers to watch their shaved ice being prepared.

Shaved Ice Flavor Menu Board - A professional-looking menu board is a must for your business. Make it eye-catching! Use bright cheerful colors! You can have a menu board designed at a local sign shop or even use dry erase boards. Make sure to include all your flavors, prices and other items clearly on your menu. Customers will be able to make their menu selections before arriving at the order window if your menu is large enough to read at a slight distance.

Running Water & Hot Water – Some, but not all, states require hot and cold water. Hot water is a necessity if you plan to mix your own syrups on site. If city water is not available for your location, you possibly can use potable water tanks. These tanks often have a capacity of 10 to more than 50 gallons. Typically a pump is attached to the water tank that provides pressure for your water system. If portable tanks are used, you will also need a wastewater storage tank that is at least 25% larger than your fresh water tank. For hot water, most building supply stores sell 1 to 6-gallon hot water heaters. Some health departments will actually allow you to use the hot water from a coffee pot instead of having a dedicated hot water heater.

Awnings and Signs – Many snow cone and shaved ice business owners decorate their building or mobile unit with brightly colored signs or awnings. Check with an awning and sign company in your area to help you add that special touch to your location.

Air Conditioner – This is highly recommended for any shaved ice or snow cone business – especially in those hot summer months.

Spray Nozzle – A counter-mounted spray nozzle located near your shaved ice machine is a must-have feature. The spray nozzle must be hooked up to a pressurized water line to work properly. This helps when it’s time to clean your ice shaver and to remove any clogs or freeze ups that may occur during heavy use. The nozzle we recommend is similar to the spray nozzle found near most kitchen sinks.

PH Test Kit - This kit is used to check the PH of your syrups. This is required by some health departments.

Freezer – Chest-type freezers are great for storing block or bagged ice. Upright freezers do not work well with ice blocks if you’re using a block ice shaver.

Large Ice Coolers – Ice coolers are wonderful for easy access to your ice. These are especially useful for tempering block ice.

Refrigerator –Under counter refrigerators work well to store any creamers and other toppings that may need to stay refrigerated. The compact chillers may come in handy - even if you don’t see an immediate need, you’ll be glad you added it.

Drip Pan and Drainage Line – We suggest placing a drip pan under all ice shavers. The drain pan collects ice overspray, water and spilled syrup and drains it away from the machine. Drip pans are connected to a hose that discharges into the drainage system.

Shelves for Storage – Usually the more shelves you have, the better off you’ll be. Shelves will be used to store a variety of items from cups and napkins to syrup and cleaning supplies. Make sure that the shelving material is easy to clean.

Picnic Tables and Benches – During busy times of the day, your customers may have to wait a few minutes while you prepare their order. Picnic tables and benches can be very helpful during these times. You might want to add an eye-catching umbrella and some small games for the kids.

Fire Extinguishers – These are typically required by local fire marshals. Even if it’s not, we strongly suggest you keep at least one good fire extinguisher mounted within easy reach in case of an emergency.

First Aid Kit – Be prepared, just in case. There are first aid kits designed for food service businesses. You may want to check with your worker’s compensation insurance to see what type of first aid kit they recommend.

Syrup Mixing Tank and Paddle – Used to mix up simple syrup, we suggest at least a 20 gallon mixing container.

Radio – It will aid in passing the time on those slow rainy days or to help entertain customers. Turn up your favorite jams to set the mood for your business.

Paper, Pens & Notepads – These are useful for writing down each order for easier bookkeeping and to keep up with a list the next time you replenish your supplies.

Business Cards and Brochures – Always have some information on hand. You never know when you will meet a potential customer.

Cash Register/Cash Box – Make sure you have a designated place to keep cash secure. Cash registers are suggested when the owner of the business is not always on site!

Magnetic Menu Board
WAS: $109.95
NOW: $30.00
Shaved Ice Man Banner - 3' x 3'
WAS: $99.00
NOW: $79.00