Out on Boulder Highway in Las Vegas, far from the Strip and far from the Strip prices in the casinos in the affluent suburbs, Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel cuts a strangely colorful figure. All chrome and glass and sleek angles and edges, it towers 16 stories above a parched landscape of flat-roofed ranch houses, cinderblock walls and cyclone fences, fast-food joints, used car lots and trailer parks. And it fits right in somehow. Since opening last August in the teeth of the worst recession the town has ever seen, it is now as much a part of the neighborhood as the 7-11s and the pickup trucks.
“It’s about value,” says William Wortman, a 30-year industry veteran and principal of Cannery Casino Resorts, the company behind Eastside Cannery and its older cousin, the Cannery Casino & Hotel in North Las Vegas.
“And by value I don’t necessarily mean cheap prices,” he adds pointedly. “It’s what you get for what you spend. Value, to me, is providing a product to the patron that when they buy it they think they got a bargain.”
It’s the pitch you hear all the time when they talk about success in Vegas’ rough-and-tumble locals market, which happens to be worth billions. Eastside Cannery and the 10 or so other casinos constituting the “Boulder Strip” generated more than $830 million last year just from gambling. So while it may be a buyer’s market in Vegas these days, it’s also an opportunity tailor-made for vaunted operators like Wortman to shine.
He is confident in the value proposition Eastside Cannery has constructed around clean, comfortable interior spaces that are easy to navigate and not lacking in pizzazz. High trestle ceilings give the casino a bright, open, contemporary feel. There is a lounge off the casino floor hosting live entertainment four nights a week. There are cigarette machines around the edges. There are 26 table games and 1,978 machine games, 835 of them video poker. The live poker room is conveniently located off the main floor. It’s small, but it’s open 24 hours and there are no-limit Hold ’Em tournaments every day, weekly free rolls and daily high-hand bonuses. This NFL season the race and sports book is pooling bets with the Cannery in North Las Vegas and a third company casino, the Rampart in Summerlin, and with the South Point and the Palms to offer bigger prizes. Upstairs you can play paper bingo.
One Six, the nightclub at the top of the hotel tower, is a dramatic glass-enclosed space with a patio and a gorgeous view of the Strip, two full bars, two private dining rooms and a dedicated, full-service kitchen to support any kind of event. This flexibility extends to the second-floor convention center, which offers 21,000 square feet of configurable space for exhibitions, meetings and concerts.
And of course there is plenty of good chow at family-style prices. As values go you won’t do better than the $11.99 all-you-can-eat dinner at Cannery Row Buffet. Or the 24-hour chicken parmigiana for $7.50 at Snaps, the coffee shop. Entrees at Casa Cocina, a cozy, softly lit Mexican restaurant, start at $9.99 and include a margarita for a buck. Carve, the steak house, is classic locals Vegas, a high-end experience for the masses with entrees starting at $14.49 and regular specials by the bottle or glass from an extensive wine list. At the Deli over by the sports book they make hot and cold sandwiches to order till 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Talk about a buyer’s market, a Standard hotel room - 450 square feet, floor-to-ceiling windows, a king- or two queen-size beds, 37-inch plasma flat-screen TV, in-room movies, a refrigerator and wireless Internet - could be had recently for $29.95 a night midweek. Another $50 got you 200 more square feet and a hot tub (the Deluxe room).
“We want to be the best on Boulder,” says Wortman. “We want to provide the best food, the best rooms, the best gaming. That’s our strategy. And we believe in it for the long term.”
Eastside Cannery Facts-Located at 5255 Boulder Highway in Las Vegas, just east of Interstate 515/U.S. 95
-Opened: Aug. 28, 2008
-Cost: $250 million
-838 reel-spinning slot machines, 305 video reel machines, 835 video poker machines, 26 table games, poker room, 450-seat bingo hall.
-307 guest rooms and suites
-Dining options include Carve steak house; Casa Cocina, serving Mexican cuisine; Snaps, a 24-hour coffee shop; the Deli; and the Cannery Row Buffet
-Owned by Cannery Casino Resorts