Now open: Gun Lake Casino’s new restaurants add TV walls, self-serve taps

Allegan County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Three new restaurants are now open at Gun Lake Casino near Wayland.

With the snip of the ceremonial scissors, tribal and casino leaders cut the ribbon to Shkodè Chophouse, Craft Bar Kitchen and 131 Sportsbar & Lounge Friday morning.

Gun Lake Casino invested about $100 million over the past two years to expand its venue. The 72,000-square-foot area is about the same size as the original casino, according to assistant general manager Carter Pavey. The addition features hundreds more slots and electronic games, including an electronic Big Six Wheel.

(A September 2021 photo shows the new Big Wheel electronic game at Gun Lake Casino.)

“We are the first… in North America to have the game,” Pavey said.

The Phase IV expansion also brings a new sports betting area, two outdoor patio areas and a two-story keg cooler with self-serve beer and wine taps.

(A Sept. 14, 2021 photo shows Gun Lake Casino’s expanded building off 129th Avenue in Wayland Township.)

Executive Chef Josef Huber and his culinary team and the casino mixologist also crafted 18 new cocktails and dozens of new dishes, from drinks with aromatic vapor bubbles and fat-washed whiskey to smoked salmon served in a smoke-filled dome and steak filets so tender, Pavey said he cut one with a spoon.

“The food is fantastic, the service is impeccable… it’s just a very, very unique experience for West Michigan. In our minds, we’ve redefined what West Michigan dining and culinary cuisine is all about, and I think people are going to come near and far to come check out what we have to offer,” Pavey said.

(A series of photos show some of the cocktails and dishes CBK and Shkodè will serve at Gun Lake Casino.)

SHKODÈ: ‘THE FOOD IN HERE, IT’S ART’

(A September 2021 photo gives a bird’s eye view of Gun Lake Casino’s Shkodè Chophouse.)

True to its Pottawatomi name meaning “fire,” Shkodè Chophouse features three fires burning behind its bar and a large fireplace in the heart of the dining area.

The private dining room seats up to 16 people and features TVs with AV capability “so it’s the perfect place if you want to have a quick little meeting for your clients or your employees,” Pavey said.

(A September 2021 photo shows the four fireplaces inside Gun Lake Casino’s Shkodè Chophouse.)

Pavey’s favorite dish on Shkodè’s menu: a duck leg cooked in duck fat, served with a seared sous vide duck breast.

“The food in here, it’s art. Chef Bilal does an amazing job. He is extremely passionate about food and every single dish that comes out of this room has his stamp of approval. He does some really cool things with like edible flowers and his flavor profiles,” Pavey said.

Many of the menu items are include locally sourced ingredients, from mushrooms and lettuce to meat.

“He’s really passionate about utilizing local and knowing where the food came from,” Pavey said.

CBK BRINGS SELF-SERVE BEER TAPS TO CASINO

West Michigan’s beer lovers will find an entirely new experience at the casino’s Craft Bar Kitchen: dozens of electronic self-serve taps.

Patrons who are 21 years and older can purchase a CBK card, which they place in the card reader. Guests then grab a glass from the shelf below, select the beer or wine they want from the tap’s electronic touch screen and pour away.

“You can… really kind of be your own bartender, so to speak. It’s just kind of a cool, unique experience,” Pavey said.

Pavey says there are safeguards to prevent people from drinking too much. CBK sets how much alcohol each customer can order through the tap and the system takes into account each drink’s alcohol percentage.

“Once you’ve hit that max over the course of an hour, it will put your count on freeze… and it would say, ‘Please go see a bartender or a manager.’ And they will evaluate to make sure that you haven’t been overserved,” Pavey explained.

CBK ‘AN HOMAGE TO WEST MICHIGAN’

CBK offers 40 beers on tap and 60 in cans and bottles, many of which are from local breweries.

“We created this restaurant as kind of an homage to West Michigan in general. West Michigan being Beer City USA with Founders and Bell’s and the Mitten (Brewing Company) and all these other great local breweries. And we want to be able to feature and showcase all of these great local breweries that are out there,” Pavey said.

One way CBK does that is the On Tap electronic board, which provides real-time logistics on how much is left in each keg stored in CBK’s two-story cooler. The On Tap board also lists the style, color and ABV of each brew available, as well as the type of keg.

Pavey says all CBK servers and bartenders are Cicerone certified for understanding the types of beers and what glasses they go in.

“It’s like the sommelier of beer,” he said. “It’s really to help create an experience for our team members and our guests. As they’re coming here and dining, we can help educate them through this journey of all the different beers we have to offer.”

(In this September 2021 photo, Gun Lake Casino assistant general manager Carter Pavey demonstrates how CBK’s new glass chiller works.)

Beers that typically come in a chilled glass get an extra treatment at CBK, taking a trip under a CO2 glass chiller equipped with UV lights to kill germs on the glass’s rim.

Pavey said every venue uses fresh squeezed juices and house-made liqueurs and bitters in its cocktails “to really… cultivate that unique flavor and profile that you won’t be able to get anywhere else.”

He called CBK’s menu “eclectic,” ranging from pizza, pasta and pad Thai to steak, sandwiches and burgers with the restaurant logo branded into the bun.

“So it’s kind of a little bit of everything, but all of the flavors that we’ve, we’ve done really go well with the beer and the cocktails,” Pavey said.

Weather permitting, guests can also enjoy the menu outside on CBK’s new patio, which features gas-fired fireplace tables and an outdoor bar that carries the same cocktails and brews as the indoor restaurant.

Pavey says the glass wall to CBK can be removed, allowing an indoor-outdoor dining experience.

A PLETHORA OF PIXELS AT 131 SPORTSBAR & LOUNGE

A photo taken in September 2021 gives a bird’s-eye view of Gun Lake Casino’s new restaurant, 131 Sportsbar & Lounge.

More than 28 million pixels surround visitors to Gun Lake Casino’s new 131 Sportsbar & Lounge, which features floor-to-ceiling panoramic LED panels steps away from the casino’s new sports booking area.

“Any sports fan, you’ll want to watch sports nowhere else,” Pavey said.

A photo taken in September 2021 gives a bird’s-eye view of Gun Lake Casino’s new sports betting area.

The double-sided bar gives guests the option of enjoying the electric atmosphere of the casino or enveloping themselves in televised sports action inside the lounge, which seats up to 160 people.

Patrons can rent a VIP booth to enjoy their sporting event or venture outside onto another patio equipped with four TV monitors and a fire pit.

“I think it’s going to be a super, super fantastic experience to come out here, have a drink, eat outside and just enjoy our beautiful fall weather,” Pavey said.

Like CBK, 131 Sportsbar & Lounge has a retractable glass wall to connect the outdoor patio with the indoor lounge. The lounge can also host live music performances on its stage, with custom color-changing lighting to set the tone for any game or concert.

(A September 2021 photo shows the outdoor patio to 131 Sportsbar and Lounge at Gun Lake Casino in Wayland Township.)

The new space also serves up bar food favorites with a twist, as well as its own set of cocktails and beer.

“People are going to be blown away with our food. The flavors are amazing, the cocktails and the wine list and the beer are all just out of this world. I really think people are going to be super impressed,” Pavey said. “We’ve really introduced a whole ‘nother world of culinary delight… it’s next level.”


GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION

Gun Lake Casino will celebrate the expansion’s grand opening Friday and Saturday with promotions, DJs and the following performances:

Friday, Sept. 17

  • 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Acoustic performance by the nationally recognized local band, Wayland
  • 6:30 p.m.: Aerialist performances begin
  • 6:30 p.m.: Cirque strolling performers begin (Includes stilt walkers, mimes, magicians, and living statues)
  • 8:30 p.m.: Upside-down speed artist performs
  • 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Electric performances by Wayland

Saturday, Sept. 18

  • 6:30 p.m.: Aerialist performances begin
  • 6:30 p.m.: Cirque strolling performers begin (Includes stilt walkers, mimes, magicians, and living statues)
  • 8:30 p.m.: First performance by upside-down speed artist
  • 10:30 p.m.: Second performance by upside-down speed artist
  • 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Musical performance by Blue Oyster Cult

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