New restaurant at the Cal reflects broader nongaming trend

January 20, 2015

Boyd Gaming celebrated the debut of a new restaurant at its flagship downtown Las Vegas casino on Friday, one that company officials say is part of a larger strategic focus on nongambling amenities.

The California Noodle House, now open at the California casino, follows the opening of a sports-focused restaurant at Boyd’s Suncoast casino last year. Both reflect a concerted — and ongoing — effort from Boyd to enhance its business away from the casino floor.

Executive chairman and co-founder Bill Boyd characterized it as a “refreshing” of his company’s properties.

“What we’re trying to do is update our restaurants and bars, because there’s so much more nongaming that is important in our industry today than it was 15, 20 years ago,” he said in an interview at the Noodle House.

That trend can be observed throughout the Las Vegas casino industry.

The Strip is showing signs of renewed strength partly because tourists now flock there to shop, eat and party at its famous nightclubs. And Station Casinos last year announced $55 million in nongaming renovations at Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock Resort.

For companies like Station and Boyd, focusing on nongaming offerings could help them inject more life into the Las Vegas locals market, which hasn’t rebounded from the recession as strongly as the Strip. Both Station and Boyd get a lot of business from locals.

“I think there’s a tendency to gamble a little less than they once did,” Boyd said of locals. “I’m not saying they won’t come back; it’s possible that they will, but I think they’re spending more money on food and beverage.”

At the Noodle House, Boyd Gaming hopes to pick up on those new spending patterns with a menu “inspired by cuisines from throughout the Pacific Rim,” according to a company statement. That includes “distinctive flavors” from Hawaiian dishes — which is unsurprising, given that the California casino caters heavily to customers from Hawaii — as well as Korean, Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes.

The California casino, Boyd Gaming’s first property, turns 40 this month.

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Allison Nielsen