In the restaurant business, there are so many things you have to keep track of that sometimes you miss the details. That is probably why you are staring at a walk-in freezer right now that needs to be repaired or replaced. In the meantime, you have a lot of food that is going to go to waste, hundreds of dollars' worth, and no way to keep it cold. Wait a second—you could use any of the following ways to keep everything cold and not lose food or money.
Ice Dispensers in Your Soda Fountains
Appoint two employees to empty the restaurant's soda fountains of all the ice. These machines are constantly regenerating ice, so have the employees keep taking all the ice they can. Then create coolers within the walk-in cooler. Fill them halfway with ice, and put the produce in some coolers and meat in others. Continually replenish the ice as needed.
Buy Out All the Bags of Ice From a Grocery Store
Most grocery stores sell bags of ice. Send an employee out to buy out all the bags of ice from the nearest grocery store. Stack the bags of ice around the produce, meats, and salad containers. The bags will keep the mess to a minimum, while the ice will continue to keep everything cold.
Emergency Ice in the Form of Dry Ice
Dry ice is as cold as things get. One packaged block of dry ice underneath every container of salad, produce, and meat will keep things really cold for up to 24 hours, as long as the dry ice is not constantly exposed to really warm air. Emergency dry ice can be shipped to you within a few hours if your restaurant is within or close to a major metropolitan area. Check out websites like http://www.unitedcityicecube.com to learn more.
In Coolers Outside
If you live in the northern half of the U.S., and your walk-in dies in the middle of winter, you have an extra option—place all of the food from the walk-in into coolers. (You will have to buy a lot of coolers to do this if you want to save everything.)
Then place the coolers outside. Set them in or very close to snowbanks, preferably just behind the restaurant where the food can still be accessed and monitored against theft. At the very least, it will be protected here, and it will stay quite cold. You can bring it all back into the cooler when the restaurant closes at the end of the night.
Back when refrigeration in your home was a novel thing, ice harvesters used to chisel giant blocks of ice out of the Great Lakes and deliver them in cold storage to homes. It is not exactly the most sanitary method, but in a pinch it will do. You will need to hire someone with an ice saw to go out on the lake or a really big river and cut large chunks of ice loose. You can place the ice chunks in kiddie wading pools or large plastic shipping tubs, and then place all of that in the broken walk-in. The ice will help maintain the colder temperature inside the walk-in so long as the door is not opened frequently and is closed tightly after every opening.
Choose an Approach, and Formulate a Plan
After you have chosen one of the above ways to preserve all the food in your walk-in, formulate a plan. Delegate tasks to certain employees so that the food will be saved and kept at the proper temperatures. Make sure everyone on shift knows what is going on, and knows where the food is and what is happening. In the midst of this emergency, do not forget to call a technician to repair the walk-in freezer so that you do not have to extend your plan beyond a day or two.