Trio Cabinet

I have been making gelato for 17 years in Salt Lake City, Utah. I make artisan gelato using the best ingredients I can find. I started doing catering twelve years ago in order to expand our options. We bought a six pan, 300 pound gelato cabinet. What a royal pain it was. Couldn’t do a lot of events that were too small, or outdoors, or didn’t have enough employees to help load  and unload the cabinet. So, after fruitless searching for a smaller, portable unit, I designed and have been manufacturing this unit for ten years. I won’t sell it to anyone in Utah because it would take away from catering events that make me more money than selling one cabinet. In ten years it has generated over $300,000. 

Mark England, Trio Cabinet Inventor

Catering

The most profitable thing you can do is catering. You don’t have to worry about collecting money, you have a fixed amount of servings, there is very little guess work, and you have a guaranteed income. Plus, you are getting paid to advertise because you can hand out business cards to all your guests that will bring customers into your store. The second most profitable activity is remote events such as farmers market. This cabinet will make this easier and cheaper to do.

The first event we used our cabinet at was an outdoor reception for 700 people in the middle of august. We used two cabinets under a canopy, three servers, and went through seven pounds of dry ice and twenty pans of gelato. We charged four dollars a serving with waffle cones so the bill came to $3,100. Our labor costs were $70, our gelato costs were $300. We made a profit of over $2500. 

Our next event was in the middle of the park for a charity for sixty people. I used four pounds of dry ice,   charged them $200, and made a profit of $150 for two hours of work. And I handed out business cards. 

The third event was an employee appreciation day for 130 people. The whole event took our employee two hours to load the minicooper, set up in 10 minutes, serve for an hour, and return. The bill came to $520 and our costs were $85. That is over %80 profit margin on all our events. Up until I invented this cabinet, we would not and could not do smaller events. I asked the woman why she hired us. She said no one else would do an event that small for that price. This cabinet has made it possible to do many events we couldn’t do before, for lower labor costs,  and without the need for power. We can literally serve anywhere for as long as we want. I have set this cabinet up in the middle of a golf course. And you are not limited to gelato. Anything you want to keep cold, display, and serve, can be put in it. and you can remove the front glass panel and it becomes a self serve unit. Some people put a single tray inside and serve sushi, crab cakes, or cups of ice cream. Even though you can get gelato wagons, carts, and cabinets for only a thousand dollars more, they all have much higher labor and transportation costs. All of our events up to 320 people are done with only one worker and no special vehicles, so we have much lower labor costs. Plus, we can do smaller events with the same profit margin.

Arts Festival


This is the arts festival we did in Salt Lake city from June 24-27. the temperature was about 85 degrees and we scooped from noon until 11 pm for four days. At the beginning of the day we put 18 pans into an ice chest with no dry ice. It kept the gelato stable for over seven hours each day, letting it temper slowly until it was ready to scoop. We also had a plug in freezer that we would sometimes put the gelato in if the scooping was really slow and it needed to be stabilized. This can also be done with dry ice if you don’t have power. We scooped over 3,500 cups of gelato. The afternoons were slow so we had only one cabinet full at that time. Then, about 4 pm we filled the second cabinet. Look closely at the signs advertising our catering, describing our business, and explaining what gelato is. We also had two people taking samples out to the people walking by. We gave out over 9,000 samples and business cards. This was well worth the effort because it brought in many customers.

Friday, June 11th. Here is a perfect example of how this cabinet will work for you. On Wednesday I got a a call from a caterer for a local college. He wanted to know if I could cater an event the next day for 80 people. Naturally, I said yes. The next day, last night, I arrived at the store at 7 pm. I loaded the cart in ten minutes with three pans of gelato, a tupperware container with supplies, our rolling cart and apron,  picked up 3 pounds of dry ice at the grocery store, and drove to the location in twenty minutes, and set up in the back yard of a mansion  in ten minutes. I was ready to scoop at 7:35. The very wealthy doners were still eating so I waited until  8:15 to put the pans in the cabinet with dry ice. Because we had made the gelato that afternoon it was semi firm and just right for scooping after sitting in the ice chest for an hour. As people finished their dinner, they came over to choose which flavor they wanted. I scooped until 9:30, packed up, drove back to the store and unloaded and left the store at 10 pm. The whole trip took me 3 hours. I charged them $3.50 per serving plus 20 for an extra hour of serving. the bill came to $300. My costs were $45 for gelato and dry ice. I made over $250. I never would have done the show before using this cabinet. Plus, I got to schmooze with a lot of very wealthy people who also do catering, hand out business cards, and I made a new connection with a catering company that loved how quick and easily I could respond to their request. Numerous people commented on the cabinet and how ingenious it was. The display and presentation looked professional which is important with expensive affairs like this one. 

I have done over 15 small events like this in the past 8 months that I never would have been able to do before.

Visit PopupGelato, a gelato catering business in San Jose that would not exist without this cabinet. They don’t have a retail location. They only cater to events int eh Bay Area. They own five of these cabinets. 

TRIO brand gelato cabinets weigh 25 pounds, are 25″ wide, 21″ tall, and 19″ front to back. They hold three standard gelato pans or two wide pans. They will also hold a flat stainless steel tray that can display any food. The base is ABS plastic, the glass is tempered, the top is stainless steel, and the back doors are plexiglass. Any parts can be replaced and shipped within two days. 

Set Up

The following video and instructions will help you set up the cabinet.

If you have any questions about set up or anything else, please feel free to call me at 801 809-1951.

When you receive your cabinet, carefully remove the packaging material and clean the glass. It has a protective film on it from the manufacturing process. Before going any further you should have watched the assembly video link . Do not attempt to assemble without first watching the video to the right ! Remove the screws from the base and drop them in the pan. Remove the screws from the metal chamber, clean it with sanitizer and  stainless steel cleaner, and stand it on its end with the door facing you. Attach the glass side with the two bolts and washers, turn it over with the glass on the table, attach the front rectangle glass with the vinyl gasket flanges facing in and the fourth side with no vinyl gasket inserted into the slot just under the front of the cabinet. Attach the other side panel of glass. Secure the front corner where the two pieces of glass come together with your hand and gently rest the cabinet in the upright position with the three panels of glass vertical and the metal chamber on top. Approach the cabinet from the back and with both hands reaching around the sides, carefully put your hands under the front corners of glass and lift the whole assembly and set it in place on top of the base. It is important that you keep your hands under the corners so the front panel does not slide out. Insert the four screws and washers. Slide the LED light to the side and remove the light. Slide the inside panel open and insert 3 AAA  batteries, then reattach the LED lights facing towards the back. Remove the paper from the plexiglass panels. Do not use windex to clean them. Use appropriate cleaner for acrylic.

Catering an Event

Getting your ice cream or gelato to a good scooping consistency and keeping it that way is the biggest challenge you will face. Every situation is different. Serving outdoors means your product will react quicker than indoors. Be prepared for that with extra dry ice. Also, how quickly you are scooping is another major factor.

If a customer wants you to start scooping at 7 pm, I would make sure I was set up by 6:45 pm at the latest. Assuming you have taken your gelato out of the freezer at 10 below Fahrenheit  and transported in ice chests (Walmart, Sams club, and Home Depot, have 60 quart Igloo colers with a retractable handle on rollers that perfectly fit six pans of gelato) with no dry ice, travelled 25 minutes, arrived at 6:30, taken 15 minutes to set up, your gelato should be ready to put in the Trio. You will need three metal pans to hold your plastic liners if you haven’t already put your gelato in metal pans to begin with. Place the plexiglass panels on the back and let it acclimate for 15 minutes to get to a scooping texture. The base is insulated so your product will acclimate very slowly.  All these times will vary depending on what your gelato or ice cream is like and the outside temperature.  Sorbetto is much more vulnerable so it should have dry ice over it all the time. Put it in the middle pan with dry ice right above it. Because ice cream scoops at a lower temperature it probably doesn’t need any time to acclimate. The second your product is at scooping temperature you must start scooping or put dry ice in to keep it stable. If you are scooping fast you probably won’t need dry ice until it slows down. I have done some indoor events with no dry ice at all. Typically, a two hour event for 110 people outdoors will use 5 pounds of dry ice. An indoor event will use two pounds or none if you are scooping fast over a short amount of time(one hour).  If you need to chill your product quickly or you are serving outdoors on a hot day, break up the dry ice into smaller chunks, especially if you are outside. Anticipate using 5 or 6 pounds per two hours. DO NOT TOUCH THE ICE WITH YOUR HANDS! Get a pair of clean, dedicated, work gloves or handle with a small towel.  Keep the ice clean and free of dirt or contamination or you will contaminate your product.

Some people want to display the gelato for an hour before serving. This creates one problem. Frost will form on the underside of the metal chamber, which will drop down onto the gelato. It is harmless, but unsightly. Normally this is not noticed because you are scooping faster than this can accumulate. The best way to deal with this is wipe off the frost every 15 minutes with a dry cloth. Or, lay a cloth or large paper over the gelato and scrape the frost off the metal chamber, letting it fall onto the cloth. Carefully remove and shake off cloth. You may also want to put some dry ice under the pans to keep the underside stable if it is sitting for an extended period of time.

I also recommend you get a chrome wire shelving unit with wheels to use as a rolling cart. You can purchase these at any restaurant supply store. A 24”x30” shelf is the perfect size. These can be dismantled and put in any car. There is a video to the left that shows how to do this. Set it up in the parking lot, put your Trio on the top shelf and your supplies on the bottom and roll right into the event all set up and ready to go within minutes. Put the apron on the front of the cabinet after you get to your serving location. Otherwise, it will get caught on the wheels as it is being moved. Most events can be done with one cabinet. Anything above 250 people should have two cabinets. We have done a wedding reception with 700 people with two servers and one person making fresh waffle cones. Our line was shorter than the one to greet the bride. 

DRY ICE

Some people express concern about the dry ice. Either they can’t find it or they are worried about how it affects the gelato. Most grocery stores carry dry ice. If not, they can usually find places that will deliver it when ordered in advance. I have found that at many events I don’t even need dry ice. Either I am scooping far quicker than the gelato can melt, or it is a short event and I keep the gelato stable in ice chests before displaying it. Even so, I always make sure I have a few pounds just in case it is slow scooping.  The dry ice does not hurt the gelato. Some condensation will form under the metal chamber and the frost will drop down onto the product. It is only water. Regular scooping will quickly incorporate these small amounts into the product. If it is sitting on display for more than half and hour before scooping you should wipe the underside of the metal chamber every twenty minutes so it does not accumulate. Or, lay a cloth or large paper over the gelato and scrape the frost off the metal chamber, letting it fall onto the cloth. Carefully remove and shake off cloth. You may also want to put some dry ice under the pans to keep the underside stable if it is sitting for an extended period of time.

If you cannot find dry ice near you then your use of the TRIO will be limited. I am experimenting with a TECHNI Ice pack, but it will only keep the gelato relatively stable. If you are scooping fast then it should be adequate. But if you are only displaying with slow scooping, it will not be enough by itself.

Marketing.  I recommend that you put your cabinet on display in your store with a sign that says “Let us cater your next party or catered event”.  Contact reception centers, catering companies, and restaurants and send them information on what you can provide for them. What they like most about our services is that we come and do everything for one price. They don’t have to worry about cleanup, power, servers, logistics, or dishes. All they have to do is take a commission. The beauty of the Trio is that it allows you to do small or large jobs, with very little effort. Go to farmers market and give out a thousand samples and cards, bringing people into your store. Go to Bridal shows and give out samples. I am happy to send you samples of our brochures that we use for marketing. Rental companies can rent this cabinet to all of the local gelateria and catering companies. 

Shortcomings and drawbacks

It is important to remember and be aware of the limitations of this cabinet. It will not do everything that a typical display cabinet will do. In some ways it will do more, in others it will do less. Some of the challenges I have had relate to extended hours of operation. Ideally, this is best when used for short events up to three ours. After that, frost will build up on the bottom of the metal chamber, which, while safe, can be unsightly when it drops onto the gelato.  You can minimize this by taking a business card and scraping this off onto a sheet of paper every 30 minutes.

 It is not meant to substitute for a cabinet that is used daily in a fixed location. The dry ice will not make your gelato colder than it already is.  That is why you should NOT put fresh made gelato in that has not been cured over night. It is too vulnerable and the TRIO cannot produce enough cold air to keep it stable for extended periods of time. If you are putting fresh gelato in, it must be scooped and emptied within 45 minutes.  If it is very hot or your gelato is sitting for an extended period of time, you should put crushed dry ice under the pans. 

Humidity. For the first time, in May, I used this cabinet at the National Restaurant Association tradeshow in Chicago in a humid climate. I found that if I put too much dry ice in the cabinet, moisture would fog up the front window. I had to wipe off the front with a paper towel every ten minutes. I solved this by removing one of the back panels so the cold could escape faster and not build up on the front as much. I am looking into a spray that reduces moisture build up, or even putting a tiny fan in front. 

If you live in a remote location and cannot get dry ice, then don’t buy this cabinet unless you only plan on doing events that are served quickly. In that case you could put chemical ice or blue ice packs in the upper metal chamber and below, and help stabilize the gelato for a short time.

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