ISLANDIA, NY—Walking onto the floor of a new casino, your first instinct may be to snap a picture to share with friends on social media, but unless you’re willing to accept the potential consequences, keeping your iPhone in your pocket or bag is your best bet—just a tip from experience. Despite having been eventually confronted by security for taking pictures, Hotel Business toured Jake’s 58, a new 227-room hotel and casino on Long Island.
“People are really happy with the property so far, and I’d like to keep them happy,” said Chuck Kilroy, GM of Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino, in response to a question about ongoing feedback from guests.
Jake’s 58, which had a soft opening earlier in the week, currently has 265 video lottery terminals (VLTs) on the property. “We have 34 more games coming in March,” Kilroy said. “By the second week of March, they’ll be ready to play, so that will bring us up to 299.” In addition to having nearly 300 VLTs available, the facility has two OTB kiosks with racing simulcast monitors. The first phase is near completion.
Purchased by Delaware North—a privately held hospitality and food service company—in August 2016, the property, then called the Islandia Marriott Long Island, is currently renovating its former banquet and conference space as well as its indoor pool to accommodate a full gaming venue of 1,000 VLTs, as well as the expansion of the 190-seat Bistro 58 restaurant, which will be operated by Delaware North.
Led by Executive Chef Brandon Cintorino, additional enhancements to the property’s F&B offerings will include redesigned menus and upgraded room-service options to add more contemporary selections. A coffee cafe and bar as well as grab-and-go food stations—offering sandwiches, yogurts, drinks, etc.—will be available on the gaming floor. As an ongoing F&B initiative, Jake’s 58 is looking to partner locally as much as possible—especially when it comes to the property’s craft beer and wine options.
Near the cashier’s cage, guests can bet anywhere from $1 to $25 in the high limit room. The casino floor’s VLTs welcome wagers anywhere from $0.01 to $5.
Currently Jake’s 58 has 336 employees—not including the valets (there are a total of about 50 of them). The hotel and casino began hiring in October 2016, training new employees for more than a month. “One thing you notice is all of the employees are friendly,” Kilroy said, walking through the casino floor, occasionally running into workers and having brief exchanges with them. “When we hired, we were more interested in that skill set. That’s something you can’t train.”
Opening up a casino in New York is no different than any other state, explained Gilroy, who has previously opened and worked at properties in New Jersey, Mississippi and upstate New York. “One of the challenges opening up, though, in an area that’s new to gaming is you don’t have experienced casino people; however, that said, we were lucky to have a nice group of people who learned fast,” he said, noting the speed at which his employees—some with a background in gaming—were able to adapt and learn new systems, procedures and techniques.
Enhancements will also be made to the guestrooms; however, the plans have not yet been completed. “We will be renovating every single room,” Kilroy said. “We’ll be doing it in phases, starting at the top and working our way down.” Immediately the property is upgrading the locks, going with a system that allows guests to use chips or mobile devices. Television sets are also being upgraded.
Delaware North is also upgrading the hotel’s security system and installing enhanced fencing around a portion of the property’s parking lot. Business systems and processes will also be integrated into the venue’s operations, including its customer service program, GuestPath, and environmental management program, GreenPath.