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Downtown Royal Oak developer puts new bar on ice

OK, let's get the obvious pun out of the way -- a new bar in downtown Royal Oak promises to be the "coolest" place in town.

But seriously -- Luigi Cutraro, owner of the new Fire and Ice bar, inside the Sky Club above Sangria restaurant, says he wanted to do something "trendy and cool" by opening a bar completely made of ice. It's the first one in Michigan, and only one of a handful in the country.

Fire and Ice officially opened last Friday, after a soft opening over Labor Day weekend during Royal Oaks' Arts, Beats and Eats festival. "The first thing that comes out of their mouths is 'Wow,' " Cutraro says of visitors to the bar.

Cutraro started thinking about an ice bar, popular in Europe and colder climes, after seeing one at the winter Olympics in Vancouver this year. It's not a money-making venture, and in fact it was a nightmare setting up the refrigeration system, he says, as the bar is pretty much a 600-square-foot freezer, kept at 16-22 degrees. "It was worth it, but it was a lot of work," he says. "We plan on keeping it. We've found this thing is perfect for private parties."

He says he's found many bars are offering the same old thing, and he wanted to do something different. "That's what we're missing in our area," he says. "We all do the same thing, especially the night life. You don't have to be in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles."

The bar, designed by Fenton-based Icon Ice, can accommodate up to 25 guests, who can wear provided parkas and gloves if they choose. Cutraro says the furniture, and even the glassware, is made out of ice as well.

"There are not many places where you can drink your drink, and then eat it," he jokes.

Source: Luigi Cutraro, owner of Fire and Ice
Writer: Kristin Lukowski
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