Chef Chris Matta oversees our efforts at Wheeling Island. He kindly shared the below blog post about some changes his staff has directed recently. I thank him and his staff for their hard work.
Earlier this year our team at Wheeling Island decided to renovate our buffet and completely rebuild our fast casual area. We knew the timelines would be tight and the planning had to be exact for us to be successful. We began in February with the idea of having the outlets open before the 4th of July all the while keeping a temporary buffet open in our showroom. This was a golden opportunity to really bring our outlets into the 21st century. We began by conducting focus groups to determine what our customers truly wanted and began working with architects on renderings. We decided on a New York Deli and Pizza shop and to add an Asian food station, improved Italian food station and a new cold bar to our “new buffet” as well.
To make the renovation we basically changed the entire look and setting of both venues. The designing, equipment specifications, menu planning, product specifications, recipes and procedures began to take shape from that. The whole process of closing and reopening two very busy outlets almost simultaneously was no doubt a challenge. But, we knew we had to take the bull by the horns and get this ready.
The hardest part was not necessarily opening and redesigning the restaurants from the ground up, it was getting all the other departments to agree on the overall direction. In a casino environment you have presidents, vice presidents, marketing, player development, Facilities, cleaning, food and beverage directors and the chefs who all have an opinion and idea on how things should work. Trying to get everyone on the same page with even something as simple as pizza, yet pizza, was a huge challenge. Thick. Thin.Chicago.New York. Stuffed. Hand tossed. White pizza. Calzones….just to name a few. Then, we had to start training and ordering and getting everyone in line, and that does not count the buffet closing as well. I can tell you it was a stressful and frustrating time but it proved to be well worth it.
We now have two beautiful and well-received outlets that the staff and customers can be proud of every day. We also can now offer the best food our chefs can prepare. I can honestly say without a doubt that if it was not for my Sous Chefs (Josh, Harry, Chuck, Nate and Hope) and Managers (Megan, Lee, Amy and Mike) we would not have pulled this off. I want to personally thank them and say job well done.