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Massive casino upgrade takes shape

8/24/2015
B.B. King died in May, but his legacy is still growing in Montgomery, a city that soon will be the new home for a line of eateries and nightspots that carry his name.

“This just gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to someone who was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, blues legend ever,” Jake Carlton said.

Behind Carlton, teams of construction workers hammered away on a five-story hotel that’s now taking shape at Creek Casino Montgomery. The hotel is part of a $65 million upgrade that the casino is rolling out later this year, featuring food and entertainment offerings from Beale Street Blues Co.

The first of those was Lucille’s Eatery — named after King’s beloved guitar. That fast-casual spot opened in January and serves food round-the-clock.

Two more hotspots are set to debut in mid-December. Itta Bena will be a 195-seat upscale dining establishment with an extensive wine list. Meanwhile, B.B. King Blues Club and Restaurant will feature live nightly music.

“If you’ve never seen Beale Street in Memphis, there are some unique entertainers,” said Carlton, the casino’s general manager. “You’ll have that aspect of Beale Street recreated right here. It’s something unique to the city of Montgomery. It’s not the same as what our other properties have become.”

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians own the Montgomery facility as well as the Wind Creek Casino and Hotels in Wetumpka and Atmore. It's the only federally recognized Indian Tribe in the state of Alabama, operating as a sovereign nation with its own system of government and bylaws.

The Wetumpka and Atmore facilities both have AAA Four Diamond hotels.

Montgomery’s hotel is set to open in January and will boast 123 rooms, an events center and a full-service salon. Carlton said the casino has added 60 new employees so far as part of the expansion, and they expect to hire another 172 before opening.

“It’ll be everything from a complete hotel staff, to new operations management, to valet parking,” he said.

Invited guests will get a sneak peek at the hotel during a December pre-opening event that coincides with the full public opening of the new restaurants and an expanded gaming floor.

About 200 construction workers are on site at the 1801 Eddie L Tullis Road facility at the moment. Despite that, Carlton said the process has gone surprisingly smoothly, with little disruption to the casino and no major construction issues.

“I’ve been a part of construction projects with the tribe and some of these vendors since early 2009, and this is the best construction project we’ve had so far,” he said.

By the numbers

$65 million
Total cost of the expansion

232
New employees

123
Rooms in the five-story hotel