For restaurant workers whose shifts end late, there aren’t a lot of options for places to unwind. That’s why Hawks Prairie Casino added a second happy hour to its menu, offered from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily.
“We have quite a few customers who are restaurant people,” says Hawks Prairie Casino General Manager, Dave Magee. “They get off at 10:00 p.m., so we do a happy hour for the late-night people.”
Since joining the staff in 2014, Magee has added multiple incentives to bring in new customers and satisfy existing ones. With happy hour prices of $2 draft beers and well drinks served from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily, Hawks Prairie is an affordable option for a customer base that includes senior citizens, members of the military, millennials and families alike.
Magee also began offering $4 meals and breakfast specials nine months ago as a way to bring in more customers. Every month a mailer goes out to let people know about the rotating menu deals, along with any poker promotions or special events, such as musical performances. “They’re ever-changing, so I have to keep getting the word out all the time,” Magee says. “If this were a standalone restaurant, we probably wouldn’t be able to do some of these things, but the restaurant is really a way to keep people coming back in.”
Figuring out how to attract the elusive millennial demographic is a challenge for casinos around the country. The younger generation tends to want more interactive gaming and games of skill, Magee says. “Slot machines are not legal here, but what [millennials] do like is the nightclub scene and spending time together.” To better serve this demographic, Magee has added programs like the Mug Club and free pool on Tuesday nights. Mug Club members get an extra two ounces of beer with every order.
Locally sourced food is also important to many customers, which is why the casino stocks its shelves using a local produce company. “When we do our menu, a lot of it is local,” Magee says. “We’ll have seasonal stuff in the winter time, that’s more like comfort food. In the summer, we switch it over to lighter fare.” The clientele also includes a sizable Vietnamese population, and Magee makes sure that the menu reflects that fact. “We have four or five new items every month so our customers get a variety, and we offer some things for our Asian customers.”
The casino also draws an older crowd that appreciates a good game. “We have a lot of older people who are poker players,” Magee says. “You’ll get the twenty-somethings and the 85-year-olds playing poker together.” Tournaments are affordable, ranging from $35 to $65 to enter with a $100 tournament on Wednesday nights, and can accommodate up to 40 people. Currently, Hawks Prairie is the only casino in Thurston County offering off-track betting for horse racing. With ten table games and five poker tables, the club has given out over $300,000 in big jackpots in the past year.
Recognizing the large military presence in Puget Sound, the casino offers a 20 percent discount for members and happy hour prices all the time. “We do a lot for the military. We supply free food for several of their events throughout the year,” Magee says. “At a ballpark recently, they did a big fundraiser for one of the brigades and we provided food for that.”
The casino likes giving back to the community. “We’ve made significant donations to over 35 not-for-profit organizations over the years.” Magee says. “To help our local food bank, at least twice a year, we give poker tournament players extra chips when they bring in two or three items of food, ” he adds. “We’ve been able to donate dozens of boxes of food to the local food bank every time we do this.”
During the last NFL season, Magee brought in a14-foot television screen with surround sound. The impact was immediate. “Last year during football season, there was hardly anybody in here,” he says. “Now they’re waiting in line to get seats. We can seat over 50 people in this area. That really took off,” he says. Once they added special game day menus and pricing, as well as scoreboard giveaways, all 50 seats in the main area were full. Now they screen UFC fights.
Still, says Magee, the main draw may be the food and happy hour specials. “We have really good food at reasonable prices,” he says. “Almost everything is under $12, and we have a pretty good variety.”
For more information about Hawks Prairie Casino, visit www.hawksprairiecasino.com or call 360-528-8888.