There will be two restaurants at the $36 million Cascades site, construction of which began on the old Wheels Inn property last week, and they’re designed to attract families – including children – so that customers don’t necessarily have to go into the casino.
“That’s why we’re expanding so much and putting so much emphasis on our food and sports and entertainment, and signature restaurant brands,” Mitchell said.
“We understand that to attract new customers, maintain new customers, build on our customer base we have to diversify in the offerings we provide in terms of entertainment and food and beverage.”
The MATCH Eatery and Public House are Gateway’s “signature” restaurant brands and will be featured in Chatham, Mitchell said.
Families arriving at the casino won’t be walking directly into a gaming emporium, but a grand entrance where they can choose if they want to gamble - for those 19 and over – or head to a restaurant.
“When you walk into our casinos you walk into a grand foyer that immediately kind of gives you ‘the menu’ of what the offerings are,” he said.
The restaurant business is so important that Gateway will constantly change its buffet offerings.
“We introduced theme nights for our buffets…so you won’t be at home and say, ‘Oh we were at the buffet on Thursday,” Mitchell said.
“It’s changing and evolving constantly and it’s all part of the customer experience and building that loyalty.”
Gateway is also undertaking a $26 million renovation of the Pt. Edward casino in Sarnia, which will re-open in September, and operate under the company’s Starlight brand.
Gateway is also operating the Dresden casino after purchasing a “bundle” of gaming sites from the Ontario government.
Dresden, in Kent County, will remain open until the Chatham casino is finished construction, with 100 employees offered the chance to transfer to Chatham, and up to 200 new positions created.
Dresden was a site inherited from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. at the Dresden Raceway.
Mitchell said the regional market appears wide, even beyond Chatham-Kent.
He said during this spring’s 60-day Caesars Winsor strike, “We were very surprised with the traffic we got during the strike at Caesars into Dresden.”
Photo: Galaxy Casinos & Entertainment