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2-ton ice bar being installed at Cafe Hollander
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2-ton ice bar being installed at Cafe Hollander

Art Below Zero

Art Below Zero carved this ice bar at Cafe Benelux in Milwaukee in 2018.

An outdoor bar made entirely of ice is scheduled to be installed Feb. 7 in front of Café Hollander at the Hilldale Shopping Center.

As far as ice sculptor Jeanne Koivunen-Zuleta knows, it will be the first of its kind for Madison.

Koivunen-Zuleta estimates that she, her husband, Max Bollkman Zuleta, and their team at Art Below Zero, have installed 1,000 such ice bars. They've done ice sculpting in Madison before, most recently "other big ice" at the the Edgewater hotel's Frozen Assets event last year.

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Art Below Zero, which is located in Franksville, outside Racine, has done ice bars at Café Benelux, Café Hollander's sister restaurant in Milwaukee, for three years. This year, they also did a throne there that seats five.

"We wanted to bring something unique and fun to Madison as well,” said Chelsie Layman, marketing manager for the Lowlands Group, which runs both restaurants. “We’re excited to work with Art Below Zero’s team of artists to create a new winter entertainment experience for people looking to get out and enjoy all the season has to offer.”

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Maggie Baum, who does publicity for Lowlands Group, said the ice bar will be installed in the front of the European-inspired Café Hollander, in the same area where its patio is in the summer.

People are invited to come watch the installation, the majority of which will take place between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Koivunen-Zuleta said the two-ton, stand-up bar, will be 16-feet long and able to accommodate 15 people comfortably.

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She said when they do large installations like this, they watch the temperature closely, and if they see a spike, they may postpone the installation. "Mother nature does hold the reins with that."

Ideally, she said, they'd like it to stay intact for three to four weekends.

The installation got pushed back from Feb. 1 because of warm temperatures.

Bollkman Zuleta, who's from Caracas, Venezuela, has been in the ice world since 1986. Koivunen-Zuleta went to culinary school to become a chef, then picked up her first chainsaw and carved a tree frog. She said she decided ice sculpting was her path in 1998.

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A large portion of the bar will be made at Art Below Zero’s facility, then transported to Café Hollander and installed and sculpted on site.

The ice bar will be open Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to close, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to close, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as long as weather allows.

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Koivunen-Zuleta said the restaurant will put down liquor mats so the drinks are more secure and don't slide off.

"We love the joy and wonder that it brings to people when they see this massive ice," she said. "It's not just massive, it's stunning. We're thrilled that we'll be able to do this in Madison. I love Madison."

Lowlands Group owns and operates eight restaurants in Wisconsin including Café Benelux, Centraal Grand Café & Tappery, Buckatabon Tavern and Supper Club. It has four Café Hollanders besides the one in Madison: on Downer Avenue, in the Village of Wauwatosa, Mequon, and Brookfield.

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