An expansion at the Elwha River Casino will add about 12,000 square feet when construction is complete next year. A groundbreaking ceremony was conducted March 2. (Elwha River Casino)

An expansion at the Elwha River Casino will add about 12,000 square feet when construction is complete next year. A groundbreaking ceremony was conducted March 2. (Elwha River Casino)

Elwha River Casino is expanding

More gaming machines, bigger restaurant planned

PORT ANGELES — The Elwha River Casino is adding more than 12,000 square feet of space, converting a small grill into a larger restaurant serving alcohol, and increasing gaming terminals to 300.

The expansion more than doubles the area of the casino, which opened in March 2009 with 10,000 square feet.

“We’re ready to make it bigger and better,” said Rena Barkley, director of marketing for the casino at 631 Stratton Road, about seven minutes travel time west of Port Angeles.

Management aims to keep the intimate atmosphere of the casino while offering patrons more, said Mike Watson, the Class 11 gaming facility’s general manager.

“We’re the little casino that could,” he said, also comparing the facility’s atmosphere to that of the ’80s and ’90s television show Cheers about a bar “where everybody knows your name.”

‘We’ve been fortunate with the guest base we’ve had the last 13 years,” he said. “We don’t want to lose our identity as we expand.”

Construction for the project, which began with a groundbreaking ceremony on March 2, is expected to be completed early next year.

An estimated 15 to 20 new jobs will be needed for the expanded casino, which now has a staff of 42, Watson said.

Advertising for the new positions is expected to begin in October or November of this year. Additional people will be needed in every area of operation, Barkley said.

The casino, which was closed from March to October in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened with every other gaming machine turned off. It is now operating at 100 percent capacity — 263 people — with all 147 machines available.

When the expansion is completed, capacity will have increased to 875 people while machines will number 300.

The River’s Edge Bar & Lounge — now a “grab-and-go” that seats about 10 people, Watson said — will expand capacity to between 80 and 100 diners with both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as offer a new menu and an added live entertainment area for bands and karaoke, Watson said.

The restaurant will provide alcohol service, a first for the casino.

More parking space will be added, as well as space for RVs.

Watson declined to provide the cost of the expansion but said the expenses had soared some 35 percent to 40 percent due to the pandemic and the availability of materials.

“That’s the challenge we’re facing right now, the lead time for all the mechanical items and kitchen equipment,” Watson said.

Masking became optional on Saturday. Sanitation measures already were in place before the pandemic “so that wasn’t a big change for us,” Watson said.

“I give kudos to tribal leadership,” Watson said. “They’ve been doing everything they can to safeguard our community.”

Woodstone, Inc., of Minnesota, a Native American-owned construction company, will provide the construction management oversight, Barkley said. Bergman Walls and Associates and the owner worked together to provide the architectural design and concepts to bring the project to fruition, she said.

For more information, see Elwha River Casino at www.elwharivercasino.com.

________

Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at lleach@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they offload equipment from the ferry MV Coho after its return to Port Angeles from annual dry dock maintenance in Anacortes on Wednesday. The ferry is scheduled to resume regular service between Port Angeles and Victoria today. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Preparing for service

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they… Continue reading

Dr. Suzanne Ames.
Peninsula College adapting to next generation of students

Aim is to engage, meet workforce needs

Officials: Combine Simdars, Johnson Creek road projects

Clallam County, Sequim, tribe urge coordination

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound Express, is the first vessel to take advantage of the early reopening of the Point Hudson Marina on Wednesday after four months of closure to rebuild its north jetty. The marina will close again after the Wooden Boat Festival ends Sept. 10, when rebuilding the south jetty will start with a scheduled re-opening in March 2024. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Point Hudson marina reopens

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound… Continue reading

Amy Miller has been appointed to a seat on the Port Angeles City Council to fill a seat vacated by Mike French, who resigned to become a Clallam County commissioner. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Amy Miller tapped for Port Angeles City Council

Appointee fills seat vacated by Mike French

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards, will be back in service Thursday. Yearly maintenance began Jan. 3. The maintenance is taking a few days longer due to COVID-19 the past two years, Black Ball Ferry Line officials have said. The ship returns to twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Coho maintenance

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards,… Continue reading

East Jefferson Fire Rescue town halls focus on lid lift

Ballot measure to go before voters on Feb. 14

Planning work priorities to be discussed

Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners and its Planning… Continue reading

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim Lawson devote their Sunday to trimming and pruning the Blue Heron orchard at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, to promote growth and health of the fruit trees, some of which were planted in 2010. The fruit goes to the school and is available to students. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Pruning fruit trees

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim… Continue reading

Most Read