Downtown Henderson cornerstone aims to please to patrons, community first; casino to host birthday party May 10 complete with prizes, 1,000 pounds beef brisket
HENDERSON, Nev. – When Tim and Mike Brooks purchased the building that would become the Emerald Island Casino in downtown Henderson, it had been many things – the old Henderson Post Office and three other failed casinos. Instead of seeing what it once was, the Brooks brothers saw what it could be.
On Friday, May 23, the Emerald Island will celebrate its 11th year. While 11 is not typically a benchmark age for big congratulations, every year is cause to celebrate for Tim Brooks and his team. It’s another year the Great Recession didn’t close the doors. It’s another year regulars like Don Conrad, a Vietnam veteran and former POW, can enjoy the games and food, and it’s another year the Emerald Island Casino can be an active member of the community.
“You get what you give,” said Mike Keaton, director of finance. “We’ve got time in. If we can give a little of our time to make Henderson a better place, we do.”
Members of the Emerald Island Casino team are involved on boards and committees to better Henderson, including the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, where Tim Brooks serves as the chair elect of the board of directors.
As part of the casino rewards program for players, points can be used at a number of Henderson businesses, many within walking distance from the casino in downtown Henderson. Keaton said the rewards program idea was conceived in 2009 when the recession hit and everyone was suffering.
“It has a lot to do with our guests,” said Craig Garland, director of operations. “If they could only redeem them here, they could only redeem them at the restaurant and the rewards center.”
“It’s a triple win,” Keaton said. “It’s good for the vendors because it helps the businesses in the area, and patrons want the opportunity to use their points the way they want to use them.”
The patrons are the most important part of the team, Brooks said. They are the ones who helped the casino celebrate a 6 percent profit increase in 2008 while other larger casinos were fighting to keep their doors open.
“Everyone knows your name, and everyone takes care of you,” Brooks said. “We are in the entertainment business first, the casino business second. We’re going to make sure you have a good time, and if you want to play slots, you can do that, too.”
It sounds like a cliché – and Brooks is fully aware of this – but he means it. He’s not a typical casino owner. On any given day, he has homemade ravioli and miscellaneous baked goods from his patrons in his office refrigerator. Snowbirds keep in touch when they go back home. He attends funerals and birthday parties. When Garland was out sick last year for a few months, patrons checked on his progress daily.
“We like what we do. It’s very rewarding. It’s not about the money. That’s second. What it’s really about is to feel good every day and feel good about being here,” Brooks said. “We’re closer to many of our guests than they are to their own families because they’re here every day. They give us more than we give to them.”
“We can walk this place and say ‘hi’ to 30 to 35 people before we reach the cage,” Garland added.
The casino is small by Vegas standards – 8,500 square feet with 400 slots, a 60-seat restaurant and an 18-seat bar. This summer, the Emerald Island Grille restaurant will be renovated and doubled in size. And because it’s the only restaurant in the casino, it won’t close during the renovation.
Why? The customers.
“People come and we feed them,” said Brooks, who added the casino’s chefs are Henderson rib cook-off champions. “People come for the food.”
To celebrate another year in business, another year as a member of the community and another year of success, the Emerald Island will host a birthday party starting at noon on Saturday, May 10. The party will include cake, prizes and 1,000 pounds of beef brisket.
“Everything we do we do for our guests,” Brooks said. “Good old service never goes out of style. Service, service and more service.”
The Emerald Island is Nevada’s only all-penny casino and is located at 120 Market St. in historic downtown Henderson. Once the Henderson Post Office and three failed casinos, Tim and Mike Brooks purchased the 8,500-square-foot, 400-slot casino and opened it on May 23, 2003.
For more information about the Emerald Island Casino, visit www.emeraldislandcasino.com.