Year in Review: Casino already making local impactWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Scheduled to be the first casino to fully open in Ohio, Hollywood Casino Toledo will come to the area next spring.
With the construction of the building taking place throughout 2011, the organization also built up its staff this year including the hire of new general manager Richard St. Jean.
“When I started learning about this project and it being one of the first in the state, the magnitude of the project and what it does for the economy I was very excited,” St. Jean said. “It’s an exciting project in a part of the country I think could really use it. I think that Penn, myself and the team I’m putting together can really fulfill all those obligations.”
The $300 million casino has rapidly been growing since its groundbreaking in Aug. 2010 as the building and its 125,000 square feet of gaming floor takes shape.
“It’s coming along quickly,” St. Jean said. “I saw it for the first time when I drove into town [in June] and I was just blown away by the view and proximity. It couldn’t have a better location. It’s just spectacular.”
Among the attractions for Toledoans include up to 2,000 slot machines and 60 table games, including 20 live poker tables. Also featured in the building will be an entertainment venue which plans to consistently provide stage acts to perform. The casino’s goal will be to provide entertainment for the venue upwards of seven nights a week.
“I see there is a tremendous need,” St. Jean said. “You can have great bands midweek and step it up on the weekends. It’s a venue that not only opens up to the lounge but opens up to the entire casino. It’s definitely going to be an entertainment mecca. It doesn’t anywhere compete with the larger venues, but we have created our own centric entertainment venue here in the middle of the casino.”
The casino will also feature many different food options for incoming patrons. Among the places to eat will be Final Cut, a fine dining steakhouse, as well as the 350-seat Epic Buffet, the sports-themed restaurant and bar Skybox and a “grab-and-go” area called Take Two Deli.
“One of the staples for Penn National Gaming is the quality of food and the food offered,” St. Jean said. “I think you are going to be able to find something for everybody. At the end of the day it’s about taking care of the guests, giving them what they want and making sure they want to come back.”
The casino has also begun to hire this year, striving to meet a 90 percent hiring rate of local citizens. Among the estimated 1,000 to be hired, the casino is looking for personnel which are skilled in working with people.
“What we are really looking for at every position is people that can be a service ambassador,” St. Jean said. “The No. 1 criteria we are looking at when we are selecting people is their ability to be friendly, outgoing, gregarious and really create that kind of environment. We definitely look for the special technical skills, but it’s really going to come down to people skills and their personality.”