Hard Rock Casino Vancouver ready to roll in Coquitlam

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The first Canadian location of Hard Rock Casino will open to the public Friday (December 20) at 5 p.m. Owned by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, Hard Rock Casino Vancouver (2080 United Boulevard) has replaced Coquitlam’s Boulevard Casino after undergoing renovations since July, and the luxury complex strives to be more than a gaming facility.

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“It’s about entertainment and hospitality, food and beverage,” Raj Mutti, the executive director of Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, told the Georgia Straight in an interview at the casino today (December 19). “I want people to come in to the property, whether they’re coming for a show, listening to music, having a couple of drinks and appetizers, and just enjoying themselves. It’s about being a great entertainment destination that’s not just a casino.”

The building features an 80,000-square-foot casino, 1,100-seat music venue, and seven dining options. The casino floor includes 950 slot machines, a poker room, high-limit salons, and game tables for blackjack, roulette, baccarat, poker, pai gow, and craps. The casino has also been reconfigured to showcase music memorabilia curated by Hard Rock’s creative director Warwick Stone.

“I’m very proud of the few little bits of Jimi Hendrix that we got here because everybody seems to want Jimi in this neighbourhood,” Stone told media at a preview today while standing beside a wall displaying concert posters, clothing, and a guitar that once belonged to Hendrix. The building also houses memorabilia from Elvis Presley, U2, Prince, Def Leppard, Neil Young, ZZ Top, Tina Turner, the Spice Girls, and Taylor Swift. “We’ve got some Michael Jackson stuff coming out and a few other local things too.”

Stone, who has worked with the Hard Rock Café brand for over 20 years, noted that the Coquitlam casino is the first official Hard Rock enterprise in the province. The Hard Rock Café restaurant, which closed downtown Vancouver in 2000, was never officially associated with the Florida-based company, according to Stone.

“Somebody in the 1970s opened a chain of restaurants using the same name,” Stone explains. “In 1998, the Hard Rock Café in Orlando bought that for $70 million just to close it.”

While there is no Hard Rock Café on the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver property, dining options include casual lounges Unlisted and Asylum, fast-food options such as FU Express, which serves Asian cuisine; Chips, which serves made-to-order sandwiches; Roadies, a burger and fries joint; and Fuel Café, which offers healthy snacks and smoothies as well as specialty coffees. Stake is the casino’s most upscale restaurant, specializing in steak.

At the media preview, executive chef Neil Jamieson, who has worked for Great Canadian Casinos for four years, emphasized that the majority of meat and produce served throughout the Hard Rock Casino are local and sustainable. Seafood is also OceanWise.

Similar to many other Hard Rock Casino properties around the world, the Coquitlam locations hopes to one day include a hotel.

“We’re looking at that as phase two of our project,” Mutti told the Straight. “We’re seeing how our launch goes and seeing how successful the brand launch is, and seeing how our finances work out, and then we want to be a hotel and casino.”

In the meantime, staff are putting the finishing touches on the casino floor and at the Theatre at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, formerly known as the Red Robinson Show Theatre. Local band Hedley will perform at the launch party. The Theatre has already scheduled a number of music acts into 2014, including Our Lady Peace on New Year’s Eve, Macy Gray in February, as well as the Goo Goo Dolls and Chicago in March.

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