This colorful, marketplace-style foodservice facility featuring display-cooking equipment, retail food displays and a pay-at-the-end POS system brings a fresh concept to Indiana's first land-based Las Vegas-style casino.
Live! Market at the new, $300 million, 223,000-square-foot Indiana Live! Casino in Shelbyville, Ind., conveys abundance, creativity, fresh ingredients and fun in an interactive atmosphere. The marketplace is one of several foodservice outlets at the casino, which also houses Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, NASCAR Sports Grille, Angels Rock Bar, Mosaic Nightclub and Lounge, and Center Bar.
"We didn't want to create a buffet similar to others you see in many casinos," says Bob Zitto, vice president of food & beverage for The Cordish Company, which developed and manages the casino. "We wanted something different that would attract guests not only to the gaming but also the dining establishments. This is a combination farmers market and restaurant."
The $7 million, 14,400-square-foot, 280-seat Live! Market has six stations: Bakery with grab-and-go sandwiches, desserts and coffee; Mediterranean, with a hearth oven; Fire, featuring a charbroiler and rotisserie; Asian, set up with woks and a sushi counter; Salad/Fruit/Smoothies; and Adult Beverage, which includes a soda fountain.
"Flexibility is a very important part of the marketplace," says Jennifer Safran, principal, JEM Consulting Group, Las Vegas, the foodservice design firm for the project. "Each station is designed with equipment that can be used for many different menu items."
Customers enter Live! Market, the casino's 24-hour dining outlet, via the casino floor. "We balance 24-hour stations with day-part-specific stations and accessibility to the casino," says Zitto.
"When stations aren't open for service, staff is often prepping at these areas," Safran says. "The stations don't look empty when they aren't in use because they are designed with so many different materials and have retail components. This is a credit to the interior designers' creativity."
A pay-at-the-end POS system encourages sales and speeds lines. Staff hand plastic cards to customers as they enter and explain the process: guests simply shop and choose items at their own pace, a server punches the card indicating the item, and guests pay for everything once they're finished browsing. Zitto believes this system will control food costs because customers will choose only what they know they will eat.
The Market's Asian, Fire and Mediterranean stations feature "pods," sections containing meal components to allow customers to buy a complete meal rather than move around to different stations to find full meal components, such as salads, entrees and so forth. At the Fire station, for instance, guests can find salads and sides as well as burgers and other proteins.
Each station has a retail component: the Fire station offers barbecue sauces and marinades; the Mediterranean station sells imported pastas, sauces and packaged antipasto; and the Adult Beverage area offers coffees, teas, sodas and bottled wine.
Bright colors, bold signage and hundreds of textures and shapes combine to produce the lively marketplace. "We wanted customers to feel as though they were no longer inside of a casino, but rather wandering through an eclectic market where they can order and purchase food to their hearts' delight, similar to what you might find at Pike's Market in Seattle," says Lora Hunsaker, interior design project manager at WESTAR Architectural Group.
"We also wanted customers to feel their way through the space using their senses, particularly sight and smell," she says. "The natural woods and stones are merely a backdrop to enhance the food experience. We added splashes of color here and there with fun acrylics and resins from South America and other regions. The signage was a lot of fun to create ... and the colors are all about freshness. We wanted the idea of everything being organic and 'of the earth' to ring true."
The Fire station incorporates red metal, split-face limestone, walnut and cherry veneers and glass tile. The Mediterranean station uses checkerboard resin, blue man-made quartz and walnut and oak veneer. The Asian station features bamboo laminate, green ceramic tile, acrylic panels, satin brass metal and coconut veneer. The Adult Beverage Station highlights backlit green glass tiles, backlit green acrylic panels, bottle caps suspended in resin on the bar stop, red man-made quartz, teak veneer and cork penny round tiles. The Bakery station uses wheat-colored acrylic panels, ceramic tile, "ice tree" wood veneer and red- and white-striped resin panels. The Salad station features oak wood veneer, natural stone countertops and tagua seeds suspended in red and yellow resin.
Seating areas are accented with brick, split-face limestone, and oak, walnut, and zebrawood veneers. Tables are made from solid redwood, coconut veneer and sorghum. Colorful fabric covers chairs. The dining room's ceiling was lowered and an added soffit serves as a buffer between the dining room and the marketplace, Hunsaker says.
Much of the equipment was specially fabricated because nothing was available to fit the design, Safran says. ."We selected high-end equipment that appeals to the eye but would also hold up in a high-volume scenario," she says, adding that the exhibition-cooking areas, refrigerated and ambient display cases allow guests know the food they see is fresh.
For the kitchen, Safran worked with Jason Geckeler, who is based at JEM's Pleasantville, N.J., headquarters. The equipment represents a combination of buy-out, modified buy-out and custom-designed/built items. Geckeler designed the Fire station's charbroiler, the Mediterranean's charbroiler/display case, the self-serve refrigerated counters at Salad and the cold/hot holding counters at the Salad and Mediterranean stations.
JEM and WESTAR collaborated on the millwork counters that have cubbyholes for retail items.
Zitto shows particular enthusiasm about the Bakery. "This is similar to the pastry shop in the Paris hotel in Las Vegas where guests can find just about every baked item and sweets that they can imagine," he says. "Michael Volpe, the executive pastry chef, joined us from the Borgata in Atlantic City."
The Bakery has its own POS, allowing this area to operate independently of Live! Market. Cold rails and refrigerators hold sandwich and panini ingredients, which staff assemble and grill. Crêpe and waffle machines operate throughout the day, and a rotating gelato case displays a variety of flavors. Breads, baked in the station's combi oven, as well as pastries, individual cakes, chocolates, specialty coffee drinks, sodas and juices are available for purchase.
The Mediterranean station features two air-screen cases holding 60 antipasto items, including an olive bar with Italian and Mediterranean cheeses, house-made sausages and prosciutto. Wheels of cheese, legs of beef, sausages and a hanging pot rack contribute to décor and highlight the use of fresh products.
Petite marmites and hot spots turn out pasta dishes with sauce and protein options such as shrimp and chicken. A cooking and display area includes a charbroiler that sits atop a refrigerated drawer used for holding kabobs. The hearth oven produces pizza, a specialty at the Mediterranean station, as well as calzones, stromboli, stuffed breads and baked pastas
At the Fire station, two display cases flank the six-foot by two-foot custom-designed charbroiler. The first,display case, holds steaks, lamb chops, veal chops and other proteins. The second is a large, angled display with flaked ice to show off whole fish and shellfish. "The charbroiler has a 34-inch cooking surface and a back area for holding and finishing," Geckeler says. "Cooks can adjust heights on three grates, so together there are four different levels of cooking, which allows good temperature control. Originally, the owners wanted an open fire pit, but that wasn't realistic here. This allows cooking on display and products can be put at a higher level so food doesn't burn."
Behind the charbroiler is a rotisserie; carved prime rib, leg of lamb and skewered presentations are popular choices. Small steam-jacketed tilt kettles heat soups, bouillabaisse and jambalaya, and a fryer cooks onion rings and fries.
The Asian station and others do not have long counters for different offerings. "Each section is its own contained area with its own equipment and vertical food shields," Geckeler says. "This presentation creates the ambience of a farmers market."
A chef continuously prepares sushi and other fish items at the Asian station, which includes a rice warmer, hot-sake dispenser, a steam table for six types of Chinese dumplings, and a barbecue section featuring carved ribs, duck and pork. Salads are prepared in a separate area.
On one side, two large display tables flank a custom-made wok range with hot spots for preparing stir-fries. Silver pots sit atop display tables rather than in steam tables. An air-curtain display case holds freshly cut ingredients for the stir-fries.
The Salad/Fruit/Smoothies station features equipment offering self-serve and composite salads, sliced and whole hand fruits, juice, soup and hot cereal. Three refrigerated self-serve air-screen counters allow guests easy and safe access to items. Built-in blenders and undercounter ice-bin space support service, as does a range for breakfast eggs, omelets, frittatas, quiche, rŏsti potatoes and pomme frites.
The Adult Beverage station offers coffee drinks, tea, beer, wine, liquor and 30 boutique sodas. A unit beer tower sits above a display case filled with ice and soda bottles. Guests can purchase wine by the glass and bottle. A mojito machine, which Zitto says is one of three in the world, makes the popular drinks. Staff use this unit to grind the sugar cane and pick fresh mint from planter boxes. A soda jerk prepares soda floats and milkshakes to order.
The 9,900-square-foot main production kitchen, adjacent to Live! Market, consists of a 1,200-square-foot communal prep area with shared refrigerated storage; a 650-square-foot bulk production area with two 60-gallon tilting kettles and two 40-gallon tilting skillets; a 1,050-square-foot bakery; a 550-square-foot butcher shop; an 850-square-foot warewashing and dry-storage area for NASCAR Grille; a 950-square-foot warewashing and dry-storage section for Live! Market and other foodservice areas; a 1,450-square-foot NASCAR Grille kitchen; 1,250-square-feet of other dry storage and refrigerated storage space servicing Live! Market NASCAR Grille, the employee dining room, the steakhouse (which also uses a butcher shop and bakery), and the platinum and gold clubs upstairs.
At this first land-based, Las Vegas-style casino in Indiana, customer expectations are high for new, exciting forms of entertainment. Equipment is integral to Live! Market's design, which shows how food preparation, presentation and delivery can be one intriguing package.