Q&A: James Johnson, regional director Comanche Red River Casino, Devol, Okla.

It might seem fitting, in an industry centered around gambling, for one operation to gamble on two new restaurant concepts in less than a year. In a span of only nine months, the Comanche Red River Casino's deli/concession stand was replaced with two sit-down restaurants that have helped transform the entire operation.

Last November, Countryville Bar and Grill opened its doors. In addition to live country music and karaoke nights, the restaurant features a Southern menu that includes sandwiches, burgers and entrees that keep with the theme, such as chicken fried steak, fried catfish and barbecue ribs.

One month after the Countryville opening, the Red River Grill, a casual sandwich restaurant, was launched.

"With the renovation, we had the benefit of having added space, so our goal was to create nice foodservice areas," says James Johnson, regional director of the Comanche Red River Casino.

FE&S spoke with Johnson about the new restaurants and the challenges of the renovation.

FE&S: Describe the two restaurant concepts.

JJ: Countryville is a 1,800-square-foot branded concept based on fun food. We do a lot of burgers, sandwiches, breakfast items, steak, fajitas, build-your-own burger and appetizers. It offers a variety of food and has seating for 180. The café, which seats 30, is more sandwich and appetizer driven.

FE&S: What types of equipment make up the kitchens?

JJ: Countryville's equipment includes a battery of three fryers, charbroiler, flattop, stove, six-burner range, cook-and-hold oven and combi oven. The café includes a flattop grill and fryers. There is not much equipment in this setting.

FE&S: What issues did you encounter in choosing your menu items?

JJ: It was a challenge making sure we had the right menu fit for the casino clientele, who live in southern Oklahoma.

FE&S: How did you accomplish this?

JJ: We knew a Southern-type menu that included barbecue would work. We also have the ability to change our offerings to keep things fresh, offer new ideas and alter food presentation.


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