Ready to servePublished 12:46pm Saturday, December 14, 2013
Thousands anticipated for opening
Chef Paul Norton is pulled to the side Thursday afternoon and asked where the spoons for the ice cream are at the dessert bar in The Buffet.
Norton turns to team member Herbert Tesh to find the spoons.
This is just an example of the hiccups Norton and Tesh are looking to avoid Tuesday when thousands of patrons are expected to be on hand during the official opening of the newly constructed $246 million Wind Creek Wetumpka Hotel and Casino.
The casino and the five restaurants will open for business at noon Tuesday as scheduled. The 20-story hotel is expected to open sometime in late January.
On Thursday and Friday it was employee day for the thousands of staff members of all three of the Poarch Band of Creek Indian properties in the state. All were treated to a meal and had an opportunity to tour the 60,000-square-foot casino floor and take in some of the 2,300 games on the floor.
“We’re dealing with hundreds here today, but we’ll be dealing with thousands on Tuesday,” said Norton, executive chef of the five restaurants at Wind Creek Wetumpka. “It’s gonna be all hands on deck on Tuesday because the number of people we will see Tuesday in the restaurants and the casino floor will be overwhelming.”
To commemorate the opening of the casino The Buffet will offer steak and seafood, Norton said.
On most Fridays and Saturdays, The Buffet will feature seafood.
Tesh, who attended culinary school with Norton, is in charge of The Buffet and other high-volume food eateries. Norton will be overseeing the chefs of Steak, a fine-dining steakhouse within the casino.
The gaming floor across the street from the new property will be closed to the public at 10 p.m. Saturday, according to general manager Cody Williamson.
Wind Creek Wetumpka’s ribbon-cutting will be at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday with the gaming floor and restaurants opening at noon.
“It will be great to be back to managing just one property again, instead of two,” Williamson said.
Williamson could not venture a guess how many people to expect on opening day.
“We’re hoping it won’t be as overwhelming as it was at the Atmore property when we opened later in the day,” he said.
Still, Williamson is eager to have the doors open to the public.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “There are workers here who remember being in just trailers and now look how far we’ve come.”