How one restaurant solved a 30-year filtration problem with 3M's help.
In the competitive world of foodservice, Creole Cuisine has managed to thrive and expand.
The trick is having the right people in the right place, according to Michael Richard, technical service manager for Creole Cuisine. And sometimes it’s looking to the right partners to solve a tricky problem.
The New Orleans-based restaurant group started out in 1989 with one daquiri shop, which they expanded by adding several new locations. A few years ago they began rapidly expanding their enterprise into other restaurant and hospitality venues.
Michael has been working on full-service maintenance in the restaurant industry for the past 30 years, working for them as a vendor when they were just starting out with their daquiri shops. “I worked for them doing maintenance starting in the 90s. I was brought into the business, in house, along with my supervisor when they started to expand six years ago,” he says. He now manages the entire 16-strong maintenance team.
Over the years, he’s focused on his specialty area – ice machines – and has continued to go to school and update his certifications and accreditations for maintaining ice machines. And as an ice machine expert in New Orleans, he has some particular concerns. “I’ve been aggravated for 30 years,” he says.
His frustration stems from the calcium carbonate that is added to the drinking water, which is fine for consumption, but is hard on restaurant equipment. He says water filters work but they would clog up quickly—sometimes in just one day during really busy times. The last thing you want to deal with on a busy Mardi Gras weekend is having to continually change out filters. And it’s not only a time-consuming interruption – it’s also expensive. He said they could spend up to $2000 on ice issues during big festival weekend.
“I’ve tried every filter under the sun,” he says. “And then Mickey approached us.” Mickey Hess is a sales rep for 3M Separation and Purification Sciences, and he had a filtration system that could help solve Michael’s ice problems – the 3M™ High-Flow Series (PDF, 4.26 MB).
Michael’s boss, Art, was also frustrated with the scaling on their ice machines, so he went looking for help at a national food service trade show. “Art came to the trade show and stopped at exhibitor booths looking for a solution – that’s why he attended,” says Mickey.
So Mickey went to visit them. “I listened to what the issues were and I took a water sample for testing,” he says. “If a customer has a unique water issue, that’s what we do – we listen, we analyze and we make an educated recommendation.” Once the test results came in, Mickey was able to go back with a solution.
“We had to use two technologies combined,” he says. He used an ice machine filtration system, which uses IMPACT – Integrated Membrane Pre-Activated Carbon Technology – which is a fairly new development in the filtration industry. Along with the ice filtration system, he used a filtering solution that is typically used for espresso machines.
So Michael tried the new solution at a Creole Cuisine restaurant during a busy festival week. Prior to testing, he thought 90 days would be a big success for their amount of volume. “I have gone for 127 days so far without touching it,” Michael says. “There’s not a spot of calcium carbonate on it. I have clear ice.”
He says he’s been telling everyone in the French Quarter that this is the answer to their ice issues. “You have solved the problem we’ve been dealing with for the last 30 years.”