Casino Design 2021, RESTAURANT DESIGN

Align the Cherries

Mon, Nov 17, 2021

Turn your casino restaurants into progressive payoff machines

Align the Cherries

You’re all in. You’re invested heavily. And you’re committed to working it everyday. Now elevate your restaurant and bring guests back more often. To achieve that goal, begin with the end in mind and create special experiences that people love.
Each restaurant should be another reason why guests come back. Pull the right levers and pull away from your the competition… with one critical caveat. Just like hitting a progressive jackpot, you need complete payline alignment. One cherry on the wrong row is like having a zero multiplier in the equation, and you get nothing.
For example, a beautifully designed space with great food, but with a messy bathroom, may just kill all that work and disrupt the entire formula for success. Below are three key focus areas to design and line up. Done right, you’ll create a lollapalooza with fantastic emergent effects.

Optimal Design

You’ve got a great space, solid marketing and a unique product offering. Guests are lined up out the door. But can you deliver in a way that delights your customers 100 percent of the time?
You’ve done so many things right. Now it’s about operational excellence and throughput focus. Visit Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. I know this one pretty well. It’s a machine. Running 24 hours. Service and ticket times are critical to handle those ever-growing long lines of hungry guests.
Now you’ve got to be continuously assessing. Can your equipment handle the long lines? Are there contingency plans in place? Is your design and flow smart and getting smarter to handle the increasing demand? Can your employees not only handle but also continually improve? Think like a manufacturer. Look for the bottleneck and figure out how to relieve the pressure points.  

Superstar Service

When was the last time you felt fantastic? Now, close your eyes and imagine being at Spago. You’ve just been greeted wonderfully and gracefully served the most delicious food.
Then, from the kitchen, the chef comes out. It’s Wolfgang Puck himself. He comes to your table and with a smile introduces himself. To you! Now open your eyes. And make reservations at one of his restaurants.
This well-orchestrated team effort happens regularly. It’s an experience to cherish and talk about. Having the right concept is important. But having superstar service is the equivalent of having an expert driver for a Ferrari. If you get the service and culture right you're going to win. And sales can double in the same concept and space. As leaders, it’s our job to unite the team and drive morale. The best way to do that? Take good care of your employees, and in turn they’ll take good care of your guests. The best server is a happy, stable one. Treat your employees better than your competition. People who feel great about themselves and where they work are happy. They’re energized, and excited to serve others.
A team of thoughtful and committed  people can accomplish remarkable results. Now it’s your job to design a system to create that. You’ve already taken on all the risk and made all the capital investment in the space. Now ignite it with a team of highly motivated A-players.

Word of Mouth

Great space. Great food. Great service. Check, check, check. Now it is about making a name for yourself through advertising. But not through expensive billboards or magazine ads. The best form of advertising is word of mouth, and it’s free.
Let’s take an off-the-Strip example to really highlight this point. Skinny Fats restaurant, located in a warehouse area, took over a failed generic cafeteria restaurant. The menu is delicious, comprised of both healthy and more decadent offerings. The design is very gritty and authentic. In fact, the walls are covered with two-by-fours that the owner and his team cut themselves. Guests really seem to love the food and experience. And they love talking to others about how much they crave the food—so much so that Skinny Fats was selected to handle food and beverage for the 2021 Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. Exposure to over 100,000 people!
Can you imagine the word of mouth required to be selected for the event, and all the social media and shared stories after EDC? The answer can be found at their new second location, which opened to long lines before the sign was even installed.
They have turned their leads into gold through great service, an authentic approach and diehard fans spreading the word. You can too. Look at the poor-performing sectors in your casino with fresh eyes. What Would Skinny Fats Do? Do it right and give your customers another reason to visit and tell their friends.    
By focusing on optimal service, superstar service and word of mouth, you may just find yourself with the makings of a landmark. Now it is your turn to line up the cherries and win big.

By Seth Makowsky

Seth Makowsky is CEO of the Makowsky Restaurant Group, a food-and-beverage management and consulting company that exists to drive world-class performance and create landmarks. For more information, visit or call 321-436-6925.

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