By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Sure, it’s been ridiculously cold this week.
But since you can’t change the weather, you might as well embrace it.
Dooney’s Downtown Bar and Grill is doing just that this weekend with Winterfest, an indoor and outdoor festival featuring ice carving.
The large outdoor patio on Central Square will be filled with 10,000 pounds of ice sculpture created by Anthony Palumbo and Jeff Kaiser. Palumbo is a part-owner of Dooney’s and also a chef and manager. Kaiser is also a professional chef and an accomplished ice sculptor.
Inside, there will be live music all weekend, with The Rage on Friday night, Something Smith on Saturday night, and a DJ on Sunday.
But the centerpiece of the festival will be outdoors. A huge bar will be carved out of ice, and guests can order shots from it. There also will be a large ice “throne” for guests to take photos on, along with a miniature golf hole made of ice. Guests can win prizes for sinking a hole-in-one.
The ice bar will face into the restaurant so guests can watch the band through the windows, while hearing the music through an outdoor sound system.
Inside, there will be ice-shot “luges” on the bar, along with an ice sculpture of a snowflake.
Palumbo said the festival has several goals, not the least of which is to pursue his love of ice carving.
“I’ve been doing this for three years now, and anytime I have a chance to do something of this magnitude, it’s exciting,” he said
“Also, it’s the weekend before the Super Bowl, so no football, and in general, no special events are going on this time of the year in Youngstown.”
The fest is also a way to welcome old friends and newcomers to Dooney’s, which has undergone changes since Palumbo has taken over. Palumbo wants the establishment to be a key part of downtown’s transformation into a center of urban culture and entertainment.
Palumbo, a New Castle, Pa., native, most recently worked as executive chef at the Youngstown Club. Before that, he was a chef at the Duquesne Club and Rivers Casino, both in Pittsburgh.