CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

$50 Million Renovation Will Bring Joliet a Whole New Empress

10 December 2008

Take a good look at the Empress Casino & Hotel in Joliet, Illinois the next time you visit. A little over a year from now you won't recognize the place according to general manager Frank Quigley, who has announced a $50 million renovation project designed to reenergize the property.

The main entrance, pavilion and casino will be completely transformed into something entirely different from what it is today. The intention is to bring Empress in step with this maturing gaming market where the accent is on entertainment, nightlife and dining as much as the gambling aspect.

"We are very excited about what this means for us," Quigley said. "We believe in this market in the long term, but we've got to create something more than just a slot machine for people to come here."

Empress has done just that with its ambitious plan by retaining the services of the Friedmutter Group, a firm which has designed numerous projects in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other gaming destinations throughout the world.

For openers, the front entrance signage and landscaping will be completely redesigned, to "change the sense of arrival for our guests", according to Quigley.

Once through the front doors, twin escalators will be constructed to whisk guests directly into the pavilion as opposed to the existing escalator that brings patrons off to a side corridor.

The pavilion itself will be completely renovated with the new focal point being a lounge-style bar with entertainment where the buffet is now. A new, expanded buffet will be developed at the current site of Café Casablanca. A new mid-range restaurant will be built, plus Alex Steakhouse will be completely remodeled and feature a new entrance located at the bottom of the escalators in the pavilion.

The pavilion will also feature a new gift shop as well as a specialty coffee shop which will be developed where the Oasis Lounge is now. Zanzibar, the night club and entertainment area, will not be a part of the new pavilion amenities.

"At the same time we're going to remodel both floors of the casino with all new ceiling treatments and carpeting," Quigley revealed. "But the major impact will be converting the Empress Room on the lower level into a drop-dead gorgeous VIP gaming area and doubling the size of our VIP lounge."

The casino floors themselves will be re-energized from a logistical standpoint. Many slot machines will be moved from the lower level to the top floor to create more sensory excitement as guests enter the casino.

Pending regulatory approval, the project will begin after the first of the year and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2009. A temporary buffet will be set up in the ballroom when the current buffet is shut down in January. The renovation will be done in stages to minimize disruption to normal business activities.

Quigley revealed that while the $50 million allocated to the renovation does not at the present time include upgrades to the existing hotel or the construction of a covered parking facility, there are opportunities down the line to continue development of the property.

"We have 285 acres here," he said. "There are so many things we'd love to do. The upside potential for Empress Joliet is incredible, and we are looking forward to taking advantage of opportunities as we go forward."

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp