The Canadian Icehouse and Banquet Bar are both part of the Canadian Brewhouse family.
“The Canadian Icehouse is a spinoff of the Canadian Brewhouse, which I’m sure most Edmontonians are very familiar with,” said Jim Martyn, vice president of human resources for both spots.
“This is, for us, the Stanley Cup of Canadian Brewhouses.”
The Icehouse features unique concepts, such as replica trophies from the Hockey Hall of Fame, a massive score clock, a place to test your slap shot and a sub-zero vodka tasting room made of ice.
The Banquet Bar is described as “hipster chic” and features bowling lanes, a spin-to-win wheel and a dance floor.
“(It) touches on a lot of retro feels that I think people nowadays really like and they’re just two totally different vibes,” Martyn said.
The two concepts span five floors, including a rooftop patio, and there’s seating for up to 2,000 people.
“The opportunity to open a restaurant in the Ice District is one that you can’t take for granted,” Martyn said. “We wanted to do everything we could to make this stand out and give the respect that this entire area deserves.
“Ice District is going to be something to talk about in the years to come.”
The restaurants are a huge, welcome draw for downtown in general — an area that’s been struggling.
“When we talk about concerns around social disorder, safety issues or even cleanliness issues, a lot of the reason those things are issues is when there’s no people around,” Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, said.
“We would love nothing more than to solve those issues, but also the way we can solve those issues is by having a lot of vibrancy downtown, having more nightlife, having more things for people to do when they are downtown.”
Now that hockey season is back, there’s excitement around how that will impact the area.
“That playoff run this spring was like the first time that things really started to feel like we were turning a corner,” McBryan said.
“What downtown is really shaping up to be for Edmontonians is an entertainment hub. And the district and the plaza — all those new bars — it’s such a big part of the energy downtown.”
Another highly anticipated addition to the core is Loblaws which is expected to open before the end of the year.
“When we talk about needing more residents downtown, needing vibrancy, density — grocery stores are really important to that,” McBryan explained.
“We’re essentially a food desert in the core right now.”
As for the Canadian Icehouse and Banquet Bar, they’re looking forward to adding to downtown’s vibrancy.
“We open on Battle of Alberta day and we couldn’t be happier to be here and ready for the regular season for the Oilers,” Martyn said.
That date is Oct 15.