ASHWAUBENON - Besides luck and big payouts, there's something else customers of Oneida Casino have been hoping for.
“Through our focus groups with our guests as well as surveys, they told us that they'd like to see new food venues,” said Louise Cornelius, the casino’s general manager. “They'd like to see fresh food, they'd like to see some healthy food.”
Adding food options is the focus of the casino's $28 million renovation project. It's the biggest investment the tribe has made in the casino since it was built in 1993.
“We need to stay competitive in the market and then we wanted to add new food venues for our guests to have a good experience when they come,” said Cornelius.
Four new food options are set to open at the end of the month in the main casino. A cafeteria area will have three restaurants specializing in burgers, New York style deli meats, and chicken products. Vince Lombardi's Legendary Sports Bar & Grill is also going in.
At the West Mason Street Casino, a new country style bar and grill was added.
“We have training classes running everyday right now,” said Greg Kolbinger, the executive director of food and beverage for Ovations Gaming Hospitality Management. “We are going to hire between 150 and 170 people and we're still in the hiring mode.”
The casino isn't just adding food. Gaming areas are also being upgraded.
Casino officials say a difficult part of the project is balancing the construction and daily business.
“We say pardon our dust, we're doing an expansion,” said Cornelius. “We want it to be new for you.”
“It takes a little more time, a little more effort on our end, but we make sure we accommodate everything Oneida needs to keep their clients happy and try to act like we're not even here essentially,” said Kurt Wolfgram, the project manager for Miron Construction.
Construction crews expect the upgrades to be finished by the end of June, just a few weeks before the casino plans to celebrate its 20 year anniversary.