WESTBROOK — Temperatures may have hit single digits this week, but thanks to the famous floating ice disk in the Presumpscot River, its feels like summer for some downtown businesses.

“The ice disk has been great for business,” said Sue Salisbury, who co-owns the Daily Grind Coffee Shop on Main Street with her husband, Joe. “It’s been like summer business for us. This is typically a slower time of year and it hasn’t been at all.”

The scores of disk-peepers from near and far that have flocked to the downtown River Walk since the disk was first reported Jan. 14 have made January feel like July for Legends Rest Tap Room, too.

“The first week in January was pretty quiet, but this past week has been on par with a good week in the summer. It’s made a huge difference,” said Tom Minervino, co-owner of the restaurant at 855 Main St. that overlooks the river.

To capitalize on the surge in foot traffic along the Presumpscot, Minervino moved his portable outdoor sign from his Main Street entrance to the River Walk near the restaurant’s outdoor seating area.

“We’ve had people who didn’t know we were here stop by because they came to check out the ice disk. It has been great for us,” he said shortly after opening Monday.

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Sue Salisbury said her coffee shop had many customers who had come from afar to see the ice disk, including a group of winter paddle boarders from Beverly, Massachusetts, last Saturday. Joe Salisbury said a couple stopped into the shop after driving more than 200 miles from New Haven, Connecticut, Friday morning. They had read about the disk in their local newspaper, wanted to see it for themselves and ended up staying in Westbrook for the day, enjoying lunch at Veranda Kitchen and dinner at the Frog & Turtle.

“It’s definitely a shot in the arm the city needed,” he said.

Even last Sunday’s snowstorm couldn’t keep people away. Joe Salisbury said he saw 30 to 40 people along the river’s edge while he was clearing the snow from around his business on Sunday evening.

The 300-foot-wide disk, which stopped spinning after freezing into place late Tuesday night, has been covered by media sources all over the world and was featured live Jan. 15 on Good Morning America. People took to the River Walk and the top level of the Dana Court parking garage to get a good in-person view of it.

Some businesses tapped into the ice disk craze with disk-inspired offerings. Westbrook House of Pizza in Westbrook Common created the Ice Disk pizza with Alfredo sauce, ham, chicken, garlic and red onions.

Brittany Wales, the head chef and pastry maker at Roots Cafe at Captain Bill Hartley Avenue and William Clarke Drive, said their Ode to an Ice Disk, a Swiss meringue chocolate ganache cupcake with a sugar cookie disk and white butter cream frosting, sold out quickly.

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“A lot of people said they were here because of the ice disk. It definitely got a lot busier this past week,” said Roots Cafe barista Ashley Miner.

Legends Rest Taproom was in the midst making up new menus when the ice disk appeared, and it needed a name for its new cosmopolitan cocktail.

“We thought, let’s name it after the ice disk and throw on a lime circle on top. It’s worked for us,” Minervino said Monday of the Ice Disk Cosmo.

Two doors down on Main Street, Fajita Grill, also used the ice disk to inspire a cocktail, offering floating lime disk margaritas last weekend.

Some businesses tied the disk into sales promotions, including Continuum for Creativity, 863 Main St., which offered a 30 percent “disc-count” on paintings and played “disc-o” music at its Ice Disk Celebration Jan. 18. Pumpkin Seed Designs, 917 Main St., placed a 10 percent discount on circular items on Jan. 18- 19.

Quill Books and Beverage took another approach in a post on Facebook that encouraged people to take a photo showing their Quill coffee cup and the ice disk.

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“Tag us with the hashtag #discoverquill and when the ice disk breaks up we will choose our favorite photo for a $20 gift card,” the coffee shop/bookstore posted on Facebook.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected] or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

Legends Rest Taproom on Main St. was one of the businesses in downtown Westbrook to capitalize on the intrigue of the spinning ice disk by naming a cocktail after it.

In addition to the River Walk, the Dana Court parking garage has also been a popular spot for ice disk peepers.

Ice disk webcam

Chris Horvat, a climate scientist at Brown University, the city of Westbrook and Ethos Marketing have teamed up, with the approval of building owner Rob Mitchell, to place a video camera on the deck of Mitchell’s building on Ash Street to capture the disk so people can stay updated from home. The webcam captures one photo a minute and strings the images together to create a time-lapse video to show the disk’s motion. The webcam feed can be found at mooseheadwebcams.com or http://westbrookmaine.com/596/Ice-Disk-Webcam.

Scientists have indicated they are interested in studying the formation of the ice disk and how it breaks up once it begins melting. The webcam will help the scientists at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, the University of Washington, and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Science in Wellington, New Zealand, to monitor it and study how ice floes move, melt and break up.

People have flocked to Westbrook’s River Walk to see the ice disk and, downtown business owners say, that’s been very good for business in what is usually a slow time of year. (Photo by Dudley Warner for the American Journal.)


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