Issue 151
August 4-10, 2003
Volume 3
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News
The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino Receives Magazine Awards

Buffets Bring the Slot Players

Poker Nights Gain Popularity

Mohegan Sun Shuts Down Poker Room

Boyd Gaming Plans New, Expanded Casinos

Detroit Casinos To Conduct Anti-Terrorism Drills


Show Time

Nero couldn't sing and Augustus couldn't dance, but when the Latin rhythms of Gloria Estefan take over The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, October 10-19 (dark October 13, 14 and 15), the entire Roman Empire is sure to shake


Column
Basic Regressions in Craps

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

See the lucky winners

 

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The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino
Receives Magazine Awards

The Venetian Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.LAS VEGAS – Adding to its long list of accolades, The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino has been awarded three top honors by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

The Venetian has been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Overall" in the world, "Top 100 Continental U.S. and Canada," and "Top 15 For $250 or Less" in the world. "The Venetian is extremely honored to be ranked so highly among so many prestigious properties in the U.S. and the world," noted Rob Goldstein, President. "We are proud to have shaped and molded The Venetian into a world- renowned destination. We continually strive to achieve the finest services, amenities, and luxury for our guests; and this type of recognition serves to validate that."

Travel & Leisure Magazine polled their readers in order to determine the top ranking properties. Readers ranked properties on everything from lodging, location, service, restaurants, and value. Convention properties were also evaluated on convention space and business attributes.

Themed after Renaissance Venice, Italy, The Venetian offers guests 4,049 hotel suites (each standard suite measures approximately 700 square feet), approximately 120,000 square feet of gaming floor, approximately 500,000 square feet of retail space at The Grand Canal Shoppes, and the luxurious 69,000 square-foot Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The Venetian Convention Center and The Sands Expo together comprise more than 1.8 million square feet of the most modern convention, meeting, ballroom and exhibit space.

With the addition of the new tower, Venezia, which made its debut last June, The Venetian is now the 3rd largest hotel in the world.


Buffets Bring the Slot Players

/The Sun Herald/ - BILOXI, MS - Buffets are as big a part of Coast casinos as slot machines, player's clubs and blackjack tables. Every day, thousands of people pay a low price to eat as many egg rolls, crab legs, hush puppies or chocolate chip cookies as possible.

Nearly 22 percent of visitors to Boomtown in Biloxi said they come to the casino for the buffet, said Chris Soldo, director of food and beverage. Gambling was the No. 2 reason people said they come to the Back Bay casino, at 19 percent. "It's our only amenity here," Soldo said. "We don't have a hotel, we don't have a spa."

Boomtown, which Sun Herald readers have picked as the best buffet in South Mississippi for three years in a row, serves between 65,000 and 70,000 customers a month at the buffet. Complimentary meals account for 26 percent of business. Despite the number of customers paying between $5.99 and $12.99 for a meal, the Boomtown buffet is a break-even operation, once the cost of food and paying 86 chefs and cooks is figured in. "We make our living off of slots," Soldo said. "Food is just a driver. And that driver correlates with gambling dollars."

Casinos are willing to break even or accept modest profits on buffets, because they are a key to attracting slot players who are responsible for the majority of gambling revenue. This has led to an ongoing competition by casinos to upgrade their buffets, to offer more choices of food and cooking stations where guests can get dishes made to order.

Those upgrades aren't cheap. Beau Rivage in Biloxi spent $8 million to expand The Buffet in April 2001. This spring, the Isle of Capri in Biloxi spent $2.2 million to renovate and improve Calypso's Buffet. And once a casino makes any sort of improvement, the competitors are waiting to copy what works.

"Just like everybody else, we go over to other casinos to see what our competitors are cooking," said Scott Hixson, manager of Calypso's. "There's a real good fraternity of chefs and restaurant managers who are always checking up on each other. They'll bring their families out to the other buffets."

Buffet costs range between $2.99 for some breakfast specials to $14.99 for some seafood-heavy smorgasbords. In comparison, a lunch of blackened tilapia with a salad, side orders of rice casserole, turnip greens and a roll, with lemonade and cheesecake costs $11.96 with tax at Piccadilly Cafeteria in Edgewater Mall in Biloxi.

Despite the apparent price disadvantage, business at casual dining restaurants on the Coast is still solid.

"We don't really worry about the casinos," said Mike Sattley, general manager of O'Charley's in Biloxi. "A lot of people come to casinos to gamble and make one trip over here. As long as they make one trip here, we're happy." Sattley said casino buffets are just another dining choice for Coast residents.

"Sometimes you want KFC, sometimes you want Taco Bell, sometimes you want to go in a restaurant and be waited on," he said. "I see a lot of people I play cards with at the casinos in our restaurant."

The sheer volume of diners at casino buffets is staggering. About 115,000 people eat each month at Grand Casino Biloxi's two buffets, far more than enough to fill up all the seats in the Superdome and Hattiesburg's M.M. Roberts Stadium.

Before going to work as the manager at Calypso's, Hixson worked at Montana's, the family buffet restaurant off U.S. 49 in Gulfport. "When we would have 700 to 800 guests a night there, we were blown out," he said. At Calypso's the average number of nightly guests is higher than that, Hixson said.

To fill up that many hungry guests, it obviously takes a lot of food. The Buffet at Beau Rivage, recently named by Casino Player magazine readers as the best on the Coast, spends about $700,000 a month on food, said George Goldhoff, vice president of food and beverage.

"In many cases, we buy from local vendors," Goldhoff said, noting that the casino buys tons of food every month from Desporte's Bakery, Quality Seafood and Gulf Coast Produce.

Every day, chefs and cooks spend hours baking, frying, sautéing, grilling - every style of food preparation known to humanity. In one kitchen, they produce volumes of food comparable to what the Gulfport School District makes at its 10 schools.

The cooking is an all-day process. At breakfast, cooks are preparing items for lunch. During lunch, cooks are working on dinner. The staggered, assembly-line pace is necessary to keep up with customer demand.

"If we didn't do it in advance, we would never be able to get any food out," said Mike Legge, executive chef at Boomtown, on a recent Friday afternoon.

It was just after 3 p.m. and cooks were busy boiling crab claws and preparing pans of pasta shells and green beans for the steamer. Racks of bread were ready to go into the ovens.

And then there's the matter of all the dirty plates, bowls, glasses and utensils. Frank Burgess, food and beverage director for Casino Magic Biloxi, said on an average day, the buffet has to wash 4,200 dinner plates and side dishes.

"We have a dishwasher that doesn't stop," said Boomtown's Soldo. "We stop it every two hours to drain and clean it, but that's it.

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