It takes balls to open a frigid winter fortress in Toronto just as the city is finally beginning to thaw. That’s not stopping entrepreneur Gresham Bayley from betting that his massive ice lounge will be a hit when it opens at King and Bathurst this spring. Bayley has helped set up ice lounges all over the world with Iceculture Inc., a business owned by his family, and now he’s branching out in a big way. At an anticipated 1,300 square feet, Chill Ice House is set to become the largest year-round ice lounge in the world.
But what is an ice lounge, exactly? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a bar-slash-tourist attraction where everything (except for the floors and ceiling) is made out of ice. That means the tables, the chairs, the bar, the glassware—even the curtains. Three huge condensing units will keep the interior temperature between -5 and -10 degrees Celsius, and patrons will be provided with parkas to stay comfy. So basically, it’s a giant deep freezer that serves booze and bites.
For the latter, Bayley is in talks with Rodney’s Oyster House to provide a Canadian-style tapas menu featuring oysters and beef tartare, as well as cozy comfort dishes like poutine, which will be served in an adjacent, non-ice-encased events space. If all goes according to plan, the ice house should be up and running by March.