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Modernized San Jose card room opens Friday

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Modernized San Jose card room opens Friday

SAN JOSE — Walking into the new Bay 101 casino in north San Jose feels strangely familiar — yet modern, contemporary and new.

The stylish square lights now change colors as they reflect a warm glow on wood-paneled walls. Long, spacious hallways lead from one end of the casino to the next. Giant flat-screen TVs sit above card tables, scattered across a mahogany-colored carpet.  And there’s a high-tech addition to the tables — a tablet for gamblers to order food to be delivered to them.

The new $53 million building — which spans 68,000 square-feet on North First Street — is Feng Shui certified and uses energy-efficient lighting.

“We’re very proud of the finished project,” said Rich Alvari, the casino’s director of sales, marketing and special events, sitting at a card table Thursday. “The lighting, the open space, the rich wood. The idea was to have a comfortable space — not the glitzy Las Vegas feel.”

The new Bay 101 is also home to The Province, a hip Asian fusion restaurant from the owners of three upscale Santana Row eateries: Sino, Straits and Roots & Rye. The restaurant isn’t open yet, but the casino will have its grand opening at 1:01 p.m. Friday.

The restaurant operators, the Chris Yeo Group, created a large bar and cafe inside Bay 101.

The longtime San Jose card room, originally founded in 1929 as Sutter’s in the Alviso neighborhood, rebranded in 1994 as Bay 101 when it moved to Bering Drive. The card room was forced to move after its lease on the Bering Drive building was set to expire in November. The land owners, realty group Peery-Arrillaga, announced plans to develop a business park there.

Bay 101 owners, Brian Bumb and his family, now own their new 16-acre site across the highway. It’s just down the street from competitor Casino M8trix, San Jose’s only other card room, which opened in 2012 as the $50 million reinvention of the old Garden City Casino card room that was located on Saratoga Avenue.

Unlike Bay 101 which has a modern casual look, the 165-foot M8trix tower invokes Las Vegas glamour — a glass floral mural, lavish fountains and a Las Vegas-designed light sculpture over the bar.

Alvari says having the city’s two card rooms near each other is a plus for gamblers who want to casino hop. “From a consumer’s perspective, it’s a great option,” he said. “The customers win for sure.”

Like M8trix, Bay 101 is limited by city law to 49 gaming tables. It features card games like blackjack, pai gow poker, Texas hold’em and EZ baccarat, though casino owners plan to ask City Hall for ten additional tables. The casino will also continue its world-famous Shooting Star poker tournament.

The new Bay 101 casino is the first phase of a bigger expansion project. The development calls for two hotels and 237,000 square-feet for a tech campus. The first hotel, a seven-story Embassy Suites, will have 174 rooms.

Between the hotel, office space and The Province restaurant, land use consultant Erik Schoennauer — who worked on the project — said the new Bay 101 is poised to become a one-stop destination for all.

“There are very few high-quality sit-down restaurants in North San Jose,” Schoennauer said. “We expect the crowd from the tech industry will be huge — and that has nothing to do with gamers.”

Bay 101’s expansion wasn’t well-received by everyone.

Nearly 100 food service workers expected to lose their jobs when the new restaurant operator took over staged two strikes. Alvari explained that Bay 101 owners couldn’t force the Chris Yeo Group to hire its restaurant staff, though it was encouraged.

“It’s not our business so we can’t make demands on hiring,” Alvari said, adding that the casino employs 600 people and the restaurant will hire 150.

The new 5,000-square foot restaurant features an outdoor patio with fire pits, hand-painted walls and custom-designed tiles on the bar. It will serve Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, said Julian Yeo, co-owner of the Chris Yeo Group.

“It’s an area that can have a really nice nightlife,” Yeo said. “We’ll be open late night, so it gives people another place to go on weekends.”

Most longtime Bay 101 gamblers loved the new look during a “soft opening” Thursday — though some said the gaming hall appeared smaller.

“It’s going to take some getting used to,” said Tisha Coleman, 30, a San Jose caretaker and customer of more than five years. “I like it, it’s just a little bit smaller than the other one.”

Ashli Stout, 31, who prefers slot machines over card games, said the new casino has a more sophisticated feel. “I like the lighting and the high ceilings,” she said. “This looks more modern and more open. They needed a revamp.”


Read more http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNEzzvW-j_HQSqhwIkUCs6PIKkkV_w&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=Cm7OWYDuBY_JhgHft7rADg&url=http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/28/contemporary-and-modern-new-bay-101-casino-opens-its-doors-in-san-jose/

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