DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — A slow ice melt is proving to be beneficial for northwest Minnesota businesses preparing for the summer business brought by visitors to Lakes Country.
A small amount of ice is left on major lakes across the region and business owners say that average melt has already made a difference for the season.
"Of course, when you're in the marine industry and you have sunshine and warm weather it gets people excited to get out on soft water. It's the start of summer now that that ice leaves, so business has been picking up and traffic has been picking up," said J & K Marine Business Manager Jim Peterick.
It's been a busy week or so already, but he expects even more business soon. The average melt times give businesses a head start.
"The nice thing about having a little bit of earlier ice is so we can get things going faster before get people on the water for Memorial Day. Having an extra two weeks to do that is fantastic," said Peterick.
Business is booming for those on the land, too.
Detroit Lakes restaurant Hub41 expects a spike in customers in the coming days now that the ice is almost gone.
"There's that interesting period where the lake is not usable, and then all of the sudden you get nice weather and people start using their boats, enjoying activities on the beach, and then we start to see an increase in volume, traffic and just activity in the area," said Hub41 owner Gretchen Hunter.
The lakeside restaurant needs more workers for that incoming business, three times the staff needed in winter. The lakeside location makes it a prime spot.
"Being right by the lake, it's definitely a benefit when we get those blue sunshiny days," Hunter said.
Now, it's a countdown for the last chunk of ice to melt and the first boat of the season on the lake.
"Everyone, I think, kind of scopes the lake to see whens the ice going to be off and it's a big party when it goes off," said Hunter.
J & K Marine says the average day for ice to disappear is sometime around April 20. Minnesota's fishing opener is May 11.