Media members get early look at Cape casino

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Joe Watson explains the rules of Three Card Poker during a media tour of the new $135 million Isle of Capri casino complex Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 in Cape Girardeau. The casino will open to the public next week. (Laura Simon)

Saws and drills hummed, extension cords stretched across new carpet and crews climbed on ladders to hang flat-screen televisions. They were working Wednesday to get the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau ready to welcome its first customers in less than a week.

A small group of reporters and photographers got a sneak peek inside the $135 million casino, which still is an active construction site.

Areas not under construction were serving as training spaces where hundreds of new staff were learning and practicing their jobs. More than 700 people are on Isle's Cape Girardeau payroll.

Beginning today, the casino will begin mock operations acting out scripted scenarios.

"We use real currency and real chips and actually have our team members activate the devices, play at the table games and simulate actual operations," said casino general manager Chet Koch.

Isle Cape Girardeau General Manager Chet Koch speaks with media on the gaming floor Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 during a media tour of the new Isle of Capri Casino. The $135 million casino will open to the public next week. (Laura Simon)

The casino's gaming floor will be home to 988 slot machines, 21 live table games and seven live poker games. Table games include craps, roulette, and "The Big Six," a carnival-inspired game in which patrons select a number on a giant wheel. The floor also features automated blackjack and roulette machines.

Vivid colors, including purple, lime green and bright blue dominate the complex, which includes a 700-seat event center and five restaurants.

Farmer's Pick Buffet features seven stations where chefs cook fresh, seasonal dishes in front of customers. It can seat more than 200 people. This "fresh from the farm to the table" restaurant concept originated at one of Isle's Iowa casinos when local farmers came to the company wanting Isle to use locally grown products, Koch said. There also is a Farmer's Pick Buffet at Isle's Booneville, Mo., casino. Beef and pork for the buffet will be supplied by Rain Crow Ranch in Doniphan, Mo., Koch said. The company also operates Fruitland American Meat. Isle has contracts with local orchards for apples and peaches, he said.

"We're really trying to use as many local producers as possible," he said. "Poultry, milk and eggs we will look to find from local purveyors and in season we'll look to get our produce from as many local purveyors as possible."

Farmers interested in selling to the casino can find vendor applications on the company's website.

The menu will change daily and with the seasons depending on what fresh produce is available. It will be open for lunch and dinner.

The casino's steakhouse concept restaurant is called Farraddays, featuring steaks, prime rib and a variety of salads.

Keller's, a rooftop-dining destination overlooking the Mississippi River, will have seating available indoors or outside on the patio where several fire pits are located. This restaurant was originally called the Skybar, but was renamed in honor of Paul Keller, Isle of Capri's vice president and chief development officer, who played a key role in negotiations with the city to bring the casino development here. He died in April at age 57 after a battle with cancer. Keller's features a menu of appetizers and drinks.

The Lone Wolf Bar also offers indoor and outdoor seating in a more casual atmosphere. In addition to food and drinks it will regularly feature live music and dancing.

The Lone Wolf Express will serve a selection of menu items from The Lone Wolf to go, Koch said.

All restaurants will be nonsmoking, with smoking allowed on the outdoor patio of both the Lone Wolf Restaurant and Keller's.

The gaming floor also has designated areas for nonsmoking slots and a nonsmoking poker pit, Koch said.

The casino's event center, which has a separate entrance, can be subdivided into four smaller rooms, or combined to seat several hundred for a concert. Koch said no concerts have been booked at Isle Casino Cape Girardeau yet, and the earliest that is likely to happen is this spring.

"We want what we do to complement what is already offered at the Show Me Center and the River Campus," Koch said.

Pending regulatory approval, the casino will open its doors to the public at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. It will be a 24-hour operation.

A "Taste of Isle" night is planned for Nov. 10. The public will be invited to sample food from the casino's five restaurants for free. This event will be held inside the casino's event center at the north end of the casino complex.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

777 N. Main Street, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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