By now, most local residents are familiar with the history of ice harvesting in Detroit Lakes - the majority of which was done at the location where the Holiday Inn Lakefront now sits, on the shores of Big Detroit Lake.
In fact, the Holiday Inn's own Ice House Restaurant is an homage to the site's history... and now, the local hospitality business has expanded on that theme even further, by opening the Ice Box H2I, an "ice bar" located amongst the fish houses on Little Detroit Lake.
"It's located about 700-800 feet from where the Ice Palace now sits," says Holiday Inn General Manager Doug Anselman. "We had a 'soft opening' last weekend, and put the information out on Facebook to promote it a little bit. It was surprising how quickly it spread... we had people showing up even before we opened at 4 p.m. on Friday, and by 4:15 we probably had 25-30 people in there. People really seemed to be enjoying themselves."
The bar consists of a 12x8-foot wooden structure, with an insulated floor, where the bar and main entrance is located, along with an adjacent, 20x20-foot tent populated by a series of space heaters to keep the cold outside its walls - "which is where everybody hangs out," said Anselman.
The Ice Box will now be open every Friday and Saturday through the first week in March, with scheduled hours running from 4 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, and noon to midnight on Saturdays.
"We've got four more weekends before we have to take it down again," Anselman said, adding, "It's considered a fishing hut, and we got permitted through the DNR as such, which means we have to follow their rules. They want all ice houses off the lake by March 4, so our last day will be Saturday, March 3."
The menu includes warm, comfort-food type snacks like pizza and chili, along with beer, liquor and the Ice Box's own in-house specialty - minnow shots!
"We provide the liquor part," Anselman explained. "Then there are some minnows swimming around in a bucket and whoever orders one has to fetch their own live minnow to add to the shot."
In addition to its regular operating hours, Anselman said, the Ice Box will also be serving up some hospitality out on the ice for two Polar Fest events set to take place this coming weekend: The Ice Palace Grand Opening Pre-Party, hosted by the Detroit Lakes Kiwanis, set for Thursday, Feb. 8 from 5-7 p.m.; and the Poles & Holes Ice Fishing Derby, hosted by the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club, which is set for Saturday, Feb. 10 from noon to 3 p.m.
"We'll have another tent set up right by the Ice Palace on Thursday, then we'll tear it down on Friday and set it up again by the Rossman Avenue access for the fishing derby on Saturday," Anselman said. "It's going to be a busy weekend for us."
For more information, please contact the Holiday Inn at 218-847-2121, or check out the Facebook page for "Holiday Inn on the Lake."