Gun Lake Casino’s $10M renovation to add new restaurants, gaming space
Gun Lake Casino’s $10M renovation to add new restaurants, gaming space
Wild Casino

Gun Lake Casino will start construction next week on an extensive interior renovation that will add a new restaurant, bar and lounge as well as a high-stakes gaming room.

The casino, a venture of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi, or Gun Lake Tribe, located at 1123 129th Ave. in Wayland Township will begin construction Monday on a $10 million interior renovation.

When completed at the end of this year, the project will add a new high-limit table games room, the casino’s fifth restaurant, Lucky Dragon Noodle Bar, and a new Crossroads Casino Bar and lounge. 

The area being renovated is to the right of the casino’s south entrance. Guests will notice the temporary relocation of some table games, slots and the existing grab-and-go food venue during construction.

Grand Rapids-based Pioneer Construction is the builder for the project. Las Vegas-based hospitality and gaming architect JIVE Architecture designed the high-limits game room and the noodle bar. Memphis-based HBG Design is the architect for the bar and lounge.

General Manager Jose Flores said the casino’s other four restaurants have been “performing really well,” but the casino needed more dining space and a fresh concept. 

“We think a noodle bar is an exciting concept because it brings an element of dining and a variety of cuisine that we don’t currently have here at the facility,” Flores said.

Of the other restaurants, Harvest Buffet opened in 2018 and offers a variety of Mexican, American and Asian fusion dishes. Shkodé Chophouse, CBK and 131 Sports Bar opened in September 2020. The former offers high-end steakhouse fare, and the other two concepts offer a mix of craft beer and pub food.

The casino is still recruiting a chef for Lucky Dragon, so the menu concept is yet to be finalized. Even so, Flores expects Lucky Dragon will offer a range of Asian cuisines, such as Chinese classics, Japanese sushi, and Vietnamese noodles and bánh mì.

The Lucky Dragon Noodle Bar will be adjacent to the high-limits game room, and the two concepts will share a certain synergy. The game room will feature Baccarat, a table game that is particularly popular among the casino’s fast-growing Asian clientele, which should mesh well with the fare next door, Flores said.

“We really anticipate a lot of flow and energy in between the two spaces,” he said, noting that there will be a window with open blinds in the adjoining wall to provide patrons on both sides a good visibility of the offerings.

The renovation also includes a complete demolition and redesign of the existing Crossroads bar, which currently lacks a lounge.The new space will feature separate but adjacent bar and lounge areas that will seat 40 patrons each.

“We find that our guests, sometimes they just want to sit down, have a conversation with a group of people (and) they don’t necessarily want to be at a slot machine or at a table game,” Flores said. “We currently don’t have an area that meets that need.”

Gun Lake Casino CEO Sal Semola said in a statement that the interior renovations continue the casino’s “commitment to enhancing the guest experience through innovation and excellence.”

The larger expansion

The interior renovation is happening at the same time as Gun Lake Casino’s $300 million, phase five expansion. 

When completed in 2025, it will add a 252-room hotel with a spa, multiple indoor swimming pools, a 24-hour restaurant called Sand Hill Café in homage to the casino’s former eatery of the same name, as well as quick-service pool concessions and grab-and-go options. 

Wawyé Oasis, the large glass-topped structure that’s rising next to the hotel, will feature a pool, cabanas and an entertainment venue that is expected to host live music and pool parties on the weekends.

Flores said the expansion, which is on the west side of the casino on a former parking lot, is progressing as expected.

“We are on time for a March 2025 delivery of the hotel building. And then (Wawyé) Oasis is going to follow in June of that year,” he said.

Flores noted that for many years, the tribe has envisioned the hotel project as a way to attract and retain guests from outside the casino’s typical 90-mile radius. Gun Lake Casino has drawn about 3 million visitors annually for the past two years, but its leadership hopes to grow that number.

“We think we can market to guests as far away as Detroit and Chicago, especially for weekend staycations, with the addition of the hotel,” Flores said. 

The Gun Lake Tribe is funding the casino expansion projects through the tribal government budget.

Gun Lake Casino is one of 26 casinos in Michigan, 23 of which are tribally owned. Together, all 26 locations inject about $11.7 billion into Michigan’s economy annually, supporting more than 60,000 jobs, with a combined tax impact and tribal revenue share of $2.01 billion, according to 2023 data from the American Gaming Association.