Gambling on new look, brand
The $90 million in renovations to Empress Casino in Joliet following a March 2009 fire not only include a name and brand change but also new faces to be hired this week.
Now that the “Hollywood-style” makeover is almost complete, the operation owned by Penn National Gaming Properties is hosting a job fair Friday in anticipation of the December 22 debut of its new $65 million entertainment pavilion, restaurants and rebranding as Hollywood Casino Joliet.
More than 100 new positions have been created at the casino in preparation for the opening, increasing the number of employees from 837 prior to the fire to 953 when the pavilion opens.
Its sister property is the Hollywood Casino Aurora, in Aurora, Ill. A joint players card program to be introduced early next year will allow guests to earn and use points at both properties.
The outdoor parking lot has been replaced by a $25 million attached parking garage. The interior and exteriors, which had an Egyptian pyramid motif, have been redesigned to reflect the Hollywood Casino brand.
“Guests will notice a classic style and glamour of 1930s art deco Hollywood, complemented by modern video imagery technology,” said John Johnson, vice president and general manager of the casino property, who hosted a preview tour of the new space Monday for the media.
“The entertainment pavilion, which carried a $65 million price tag to construct, houses our Final Cut Steakhouse and Piano Bar, the Epic Buffet, a Hollywood Stadium Sports—opening in February 2011—and the Rodeo Drive Gift Shop.”
The pavilion will be graced by a giant chandelier, a 120-foot serpentine video wall to greet players with video graphics, vintage commercials and animation and a video marquee that is a modern-day version of the historical downtown Chicago Theatre sign.
Christ Nogulich, director of food and beverage, said guests will be impressed with the choices at the new buffet, which can seat 288, including a special private events dining room. The Epic Buffet is divided into “fresh prepared” cooking stations, including a pizza oven area, rotation grilling, sushi bar, Asian noodle counter, stir fry space and a dessert island.
The Final Cut Steakhouse, which will display rare and interesting Hollywood celebrity memorabilia including gowns from Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, will feature an exclusive all-California wine list. Nogulich said it will rival any of the great West Coast noted restaurants. It can seat 100.
The sports bar opening in the spring will feature 20 beers on tap and more than 45 bottle beer options, including selections from Three Floyds in Munster.
The gaming area will feature celebrity look-a-likes dealing table games, including resurrections of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith.