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  • Meet Robbie Harrell, Minnesota Ice Sculptures

     
    POSTED June 13, 2017
     

Here’s the one question you might want to avoid asking Robbie Harrell when you see one of his sculptures at an event: “Is that real ice?” The CEO of Minnesota Ice Sculptures says his com - pany’s sculptures are so clear and precisely carved that they prompt that question at every event they’re displayed. “Once people realize it really, truly is carved from ice, they’re excited about it,” he says. “There are always lots of selfies with the ice sculpture.”

The journey to ice entrepreneurship began when Harrell was still attending the University of St. Thomas. He and fellow student Stu Lombardo began to see the business potential of ice sculptures after working delivery jobs for a local ice carver. Inspired to bring technology to an industry that relied on hand carving, the two young men pooled their summer job savings and built a computer numerically controlled (CNC) ice-carving machine. 

“We really bootstrapped it,” Harrell says. “We were buying irons and hot plates at Goodwill, and other equipment from Axman, the surplus store.” The small-scale operation soon began to see big-time results. “We got our first order right after we opened our doors in December 2013, and we never looked back.”

Lombardo left the business for a full-time career in chemical engineering after gradu - ation, but Harrell dropped out of college and devoted himself to the business, which is now the largest manufacturer of ice sculptures in Minnesota.

“Meeting and event planners love work - ing with us because we can give them an exact replication of their client’s logo with accurate colors,” Harrell says. “They’re able to see and approve full 3-D renderings of exactly what they’re going to get, and they can share a PDF of the design with clients.” Past sculptures have included a life-size VTX Malibu towboat for the Minneapolis Boat Show and a 10-foot Minnesota Viking Norseman for Appreciation Day at TCF Bank Stadium. 

Dennis Galloway is from what he calls “the first Washington,” aka Washington, D.C. But after 9/11, he decided to change coasts. “You can’t live on red alert,” Galloway says. “Life’s too short.”

So he packed up and moved to Seattle, trying on many hospitality hats once he arrived, before landing at the Washington State Convention Center as its sales manager in 2012.

“I went from meeting management to an event manager to catering sales and ended up at the convention center,” he says. 

 

Portillo’s is bringing Chicago-style classics to Woodbury on July 11. Originating in 1963 in Villa Park, Illinois, it has since expanded to other states including Indiana, Florida, California, Wisconsin, and Arizona. Portillo’s is known for its high-quality, Chicago-style food, efficient service and vintage-restaurant décor. Some of the restaurant’s featured Chicago-style menu items include Italian Beef sandwiches, Chicagostyle hot dogs, burgers, salads and its famous chocolate cake, baked fresh in stores each morning.

 

Red Cow might be best known for burgers, but you’d be remiss to ignore the cocktail menu. Crafted by Beverage Director Ian Lowther, drinks range from beer cocktails (called boilermakers) to shaken or stirred specialties. Lowther created the following boozy concoction just for Minnesota Meetings + Events magazine. 

INGREDIENTS:
—1 t. simple syrup
—1/3 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
—1/3 oz. fresh lemon juice
—1/3 oz. Tattersall Grapefruit Crema
—1/3 oz. St. George Pear Brandy
—1 2/3 oz. Lunazul Reposado Tequila