Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Choosing the Right Shaved Ice Machine for your Business

Your shaved ice machine will be the lifeline to your business. Without a quality machine, your business will not survive. 1-800-Shaved-Ice offers the largest variety of shaved ice and snow cone machines that will meet the heavy demands of any shaved ice business. All of the machines featured on their website are made to the highest standards in order to provide years of durability and service.

Make sure to do your ‘due diligence’ in researching machines. This is probably the single most important purchase you will make while starting up your new business. There are many things to consider when choosing a machine for your business. 1-800-Shaved-Ice has an interactive Machine Help Center to assist you in choosing the best machine for your business. We encourage everyone to use this resource to help in making this critical choice.

What's Popular with Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Customers?

While you are thinking through all of the details of your new venture into the shaved ice or snow business, have you thought about the flavors you are going to feature? With so any things to sort through, forms to fill out, and requirements to satisfy it can be overwhelming. Take a break! Take a few moments to look at some of the fun decisions you get to make. Choosing flavors and creating 'signature' recipes for your shaved ice or snow cone stand is a fun task!

You always want to make sure you keep a healthy supply of the most popular flavors. What are those flavors you ask? According to extensive taste testing (haha) and tracking the orders from our customers, we have found the following list to be a good representation of the most popular syrup flavors:

Banana, Blue Raspberry, Bubble Gum, Cherry, Grape, Lemon-Lime, Pina Colada, Root Beer, Strawberry, and Tiger's Blood (a fresh fruity watermelon-strawberry flavor)

These are the 'must have' flavors for your stand. You always want to make sure you have the popular flavors in addition to the tasty signature recipes that you will create. We will share several signature recipes that will assist you in creating great tasting shaved ice and snow cones for your customers. After all, we want to do our part to ensure repeat customers for you!

Monday, August 27, 2007

What's in a Name?

Where did all of the different names for shaved ice originate? Do you know? Have you ever realized the universal appeal that shaved ice holds? It’s not just an American treat. You can find it all over the world…you just need to know the name of it! So, here’s a brief introduction to the various names for the delicious frozen concoction we call shaved ice.

In the United States it is usually called shaved ice. However if you’re in Baltimore, Maryland you should keep your eye out for snowballs. In New Orleans, it’s a ‘Sno Ball’ and in Hawaii they are called shave ice (no ‘d’ behind shave). Mexico and Southern Texas refer to the treat as ‘raspados’ or ‘raspas’, which essentially translates to ‘scraped ice.’

Puerto Ricans refer to them as ‘piraguas’ because they are made in pyramid shapes and agua means water in Spanish. Most Puerto Rican snow cone vendors use street snow carts instead of fixed stands or kiosks. During the summer months in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, especially in New York and Philadelphia, ‘piragua’ carts are often found on the streets and attract many customers.

In the Dominican Republic and many Dominican neighborhoods, snow cones are called ‘frío frío’. ‘Frío’ means "cold" and is thus named for the cold chills one gets while eating it (what a great feeling!).

The dessert ice ‘kachang’ served in Malaysia and Singapore is another form of shaved ice. Ice ‘kachang’ originally was served with red beans but now includes various fruits and other sweet toppings.

Snow cones are sometimes confused with "Italian ices" or "water ices", but water-ice purists distinguish between the two: snow cones are generally flavored after production, at the point of sale, whereas water ices are flavored as the ice is made. In Japan they are known as ‘Kakigori’.

In Venezuela they are called ‘Cepillados’ and are topped with condensed milk.

In India they are simply called 'Juski.'

So if you ever get the chance to travel abroad to one of these countries, you now know the name of the delicious icy treat that we refer to as shave ice!

(Source: Wikipedia)

Monday, August 20, 2007

The History of Shaved Ice

Now that we have learned about when and where snow cones originated, we need to know the same about shaved ice. So, here’s our second history lesson for the day!

In 1934, inventor Ernest Hansen patented the first known "ice block shaver" in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was inspired to create a more refined and hygienic version of the popular Italian ice sold from push-carts in the city. His wife Mary created many flavors of fresh syrups to flavor his finely shaved artificial "snow". "Sno balls" have been popular in New Orleans ever since that time. Hansen continued to work at the original Hansen's Sno-Bliz in Uptown New Orleans on Tchoupitoulas Street through 2005. His granddaughter, Ashley Hansen now manages the daily operations. Mr. Hansen died in late 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina and his wife passed away in March 2006.

There are differences between a New Orleans "Sno Ball" (Shaved Ice) and a "Snow Cone." While a Snow Cone consists of hard, crunchy ice and limited amounts of syrup, a “Sno Ball” (Shaved Ice) is made from a very fluffy shaved ice about the same consistency of actual snow and is drowned in syrup. It is customary to eat it with a straw and a spoon.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Origin of the Snow Cone

Do you know when and where the first snow cones were served? Here’s a quick history lesson for all of us. “You learn something new everyday!”

Samuel Bert of Dallas, Texas sold snow cones at the State Fair of Texas in 1919, and he invented a snow cone-making machine in 1920. Bert was a fixture at the State Fair, selling his snow cones there (and selling his machines world-wide) until his death in 1984.

A snow cone is a dessert item usually made of compacted shaved ice flavored with a brightly colored, sweet syrup, which is generally fruit-flavored. Variations include the "stuffed" snow cone, which has a layer of soft-serve vanilla ice cream inside. Some snow cones are served with a spoon, while others are meant to be eaten with the hands like an ice cream cone. (Source: Wikipedia)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Setting Up Your Snow Cone or Shaved Ice Business, Part 2

Everyone one is familiar with the Real Estate Industry's mantra “location, location, location.” This same model holds true in the shaved ice and snow cone business when you are searching for a permanent location.

After visiting your local health department to find out what regulations you must comply with as a fixed location food service business, your next step should be to secure a good location. There are several things that need to be factored into your decision. When looking into various locations, consider the following:

Investigate high traffic areas such as the parking lots of local shopping centers, super markets or malls. Find out if you can place a small building in a high traffic parking lot. If this is something you are looking into, double check power and water supply availability and the costs associated with hooking them into your building or trailer. Does your health department allow you to use water storage containers for your fresh water and waste water? These are answers to questions that you need to know prior to signing any lease agreements or purchasing any equipment. You may also be able to operate your business inside one of these locations. When considering a high traffic roadside location, make sure it has easy access and good visibility from the road. Customers need to be able to see your location before they are right on top of you. Customers also need to be able to get in and out of your location easily too.

These are just a couple examples of what you should look for when investigating a fixed location for your shaved ice or snow cone business. We will continue to expand on some of these ideas, tips and concepts in further articles. If you have a specific question that we haven’t addressed just yet, please email us at CustomerCare@HawaiianShavedIce.com and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Setting Up Your Shaved Ice or Snow Cone Business, Part 1

Now that you’ve made the exciting decision to open up a shaved ice or snow cone business you need to start making some crucial decisions. Are you looking at operating from a fixed location or setting up a mobile business?

You really need to choose which type of operation you are going to set up because it has an impact on the type of equipment you should purchase and use (we’ll discuss equipment options in another article soon).

In making your choice, you need to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of both operations. Let’s examine the mobile operation first. When investigating the idea of operating a mobile concessions business, one of your first destinations should be your local health department. Some cities/towns have their own health department while in other areas you will only have a county run health department. In any case, visit their location and inquire about the health department requirements for operating a mobile concessions business. Find out what you must do to comply with their regulations.

After visiting with the health department, one of the next things you should do is come up with a geographic area that you intend to operate within. Are you going to stay in just your own city or county? If not, find out what the neighboring town/counties health code requirements are for temporary vendors.

Once you are armed with this information, you should then start investigating the events in your local area and determine the dates for the operation of your business (your ‘season’). Investigate events such as spring festivals, local music festivals, car shows, street fairs, county fairs, craft shows, soccer and baseball tournaments, etc. A good source for local events is your area Chamber of Commerce. They can usually assist you with initial contact information for any special events happening within your local area. You should try to get in contact with potential venues as soon as possible. The earlier you contact them, the better your chance of being involved in that particular event. Concession spaces fill up very quickly at special events…especially those with high volumes of people in attendance.

These are a few of the initial steps recommended for those of you who are considering a mobile operation. We will continue to expand on this in additional articles soon. However, the next article will discuss some of the processes we recommend for business operators who will be at a fixed location.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Getting Started in the Shaved Ice or Snow Cone Business…What’s Next?

So, you have decided to start your own shaved ice or snow cone business. Congratulations! Now what do you do next? Where do you start?

In the beginning, it can be a little overwhelming as you start a new business. What licenses are required? Who do you need to register with? What types of insurances are required in your state? What federal forms need to be filed? All of these questions and many more can be answered by contacting the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Start off by visiting their website (http://www.sba.gov/) to find a SBA office in your area. Once you have located the nearest office, go by and see how they can be of help to you. The SBA is a federal agency that can assist you with your business plan and assist you in filing the proper forms, locate loan programs, and other helpful tasks.

Another resource that the SBA provides is SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). They have their own website which can be found at http://www.score.org/. SCORE has volunteers across the nation that will give you business advice, guidance and planning tips.

We highly recommend to any new business owner that they take advantage of the services offered by the SBA and SCORE. Both of them can provide you with tremendous resources and best of all it is FREE!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Shaved Ice or Snow Cone...What's the Difference??

Since we're starting from 'Ground Zero', we thought it would be best to initially define the differences between Shaved Ice and Snow Cones. So, here we go!

Shaved Ice:

  • Shaved ice is made with fine, fresh snow that is shaved with either a cubed ice shaver or a block ice shaver. Ice is never crunchy.
  • Often served in various sizes in foam, paper or squat cups. The shaved ice is often rounded on top of the cup. Usually served with a spoonstraw and a spoon.
  • Most commonly called Hawaiian Shaved Ice throughout the United States, Sno-Balls (New Orleans), Shave Ice (Hawaii) or Shaver (North Carolina).
  • Usually offered with a variety of flavors numbering from 20 to more than 70.
  • Typically sold at neighborhood roadside shaved ice stands, mobile carts, trailers or vehicles, carnivals and other festivals.
  • The smooth product is great for repeat business.
  • Easy and quick to produce but still more time consuming than snow cones.
  • Ice is shaved as ordered. It cannot be shaved in advance.
  • Often topped with a variety of shaved ice toppings or cream flavors.
  • Prices vary depending on the size of the cup and can range from $0.75 to $6.00 depending on the size.

Snow Cones:

Snow Cones are made from snow cone machines that crush ice cubes (bag ice) into small pellets. Snow cones are never made with block ice machines.

  • Ice is crunchy.
  • When flavor is added to ice, the flavor often runs to the bottom of the cup.
  • It is often served in one or two sizes. The most common is a 6 ounce cone type cup. The ice is usually rounded on top of the cone and typically served without a spoon.
  • Most often, the ice is crushed ahead of time and dipped with a special nylon snow cone dipper.
  • It is usually sold at carnivals, county fairs, school events, festivals or concession stands.
  • It is easy and quick to make.
  • Usually it is offered with a limited number of flavors, between 2 to 5.
  • Prices range from $1.00 to $4.00, depending on the container used.
Now, when evaluating which type of concession you want to operate, you will know the basic differences between the two products.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Interested in Learning More About the Shaved Ice Business?

Are you thinking about starting your own shaved ice business? Are you currently in business, but looking for new ideas and helpful tips on operating more successfully? Take advantage of the free business manual offered by 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com.

The manual is loaded with great information. It covers a multitude of questions that may arise while you are starting up your new business. It also contains many great tips for established concessionaires too. Get yours today!

Monday, August 6, 2007

1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and Hawaiian Shaved Ice.com

With the advent of our newly minted blog, we are going to start out focusing attention on the shaved ice business. We will begin covering other aspects of the concessions business after presenting several very helpful, relevant articles about operating a shaved ice business. We think this will be very helpful information to both new operators and seasoned veterans successfully operating their shaved ice companies.

We started out over 8 years ago with one shaved ice business and one employee. Today, years later, we are a major shaved ice equipment and supplies distributor. We are also extremely proud to have tens of thousands of satisfied customers. In addition, our products have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, TV Guide, CNN and the Oxygen Network. Our proudest achievement was the distinguished award of “Best Overall” by the Wall Street Journal in July of 2002. The Wall Street Journal stated that “(our products) seem to rise above the rest”. This award paid tribute to our excellent shaved ice and snow cone products, superior customer service, and unmatched syrup flavors.

As a direct result of our hands-on-experience in the shaved ice and snow cone industry, we are able to offer you the most affordable, unrivaled shaved ice and snow cone machines, flavors concentrates, syrups, and accessories. We have spent years refining our products in order to meet our customers’ highest expectations.

Our shaved ice and snow cone machines are made to the highest standards so they will produce mountains of fine, fluffy, powdery snow. Block and cubed shaved ice shavers are available. We offer a variety of affordable snow cone machines models including electric, gas powered, and battery powered.

In creating our flavor concentrates and syrups, we have searched the world over for the truest and most mouth-watering flavors. We have traveled into the kitchens of some of the top flavor distributors and hand picked each flavor concentrate. This allows us to sell premium shaved ice or snow cone concentrates and syrups which we know your customers will enjoy so much that they will come back for more.

We at 1-800-Shaved-Ice.com and Hawaiian Shaved Ice.com, stand behind everything that we sell and guarantee that you will be fully satisfied with all of our products. If you have any questions about one of our products or are thinking of starting your own shaved ice business, please feel free to contact us.

PO Box 10
301 Raleigh Street
Newton Grove, NC 28366
Toll Free 1-800-Shaved-Ice (1-800-742-8334)
Phone (910) 594-1691
Fax (770) 234-6333

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Welcome to ConcessionCentral.com!

We are creating a complete source of information about the concessions business for new potential owners as well as established operations. We will be featuring product reviews, supply suggestions, equipment reviews, tips and tricks with concessions equipment, recipes, pricing information, menu suggestions, health and safety suggestions, and a multitude of other relevant tips for operating a food service business.

Our goal is to assist concessionaires at every level of their business. We want to help you succeed in operating your business. From choosing your menu items, finding a location or events, health inspections and everything else in-between, ConcessionCentral.com wants to help you every step of the way!