Stones is a 25,450 square foot gambling hall, restaurant, and bar – in essence a boutique casino. The building is an expansion and total renovation of a former Salvation Army warehouse that had been vacant for years, and is the first project of this kind to combine and relocate two existing card room licenses under one roof. Citrus Heights is a small city sixteen miles east of Sacramento – within California’s Central Valley.
The owner is a California real estate developer, and this is their first gaming project. Their aspiration was to create a place that would have a better experience than the typical casino – more intimate, more unique, and with exceptional customer service. As an entertainment destination, it is meant to be engaging, enticing, and exciting; yet without the typical glitz found at most casinos.
The exterior of the building is completely new, modern, and refined, yet not ostentatious – unlike the typical over designed casino or under designed card room. Both sides of the building have similar facades for maximum exposure and dual attraction; one faces the main approach and the other faces Interstate 80.
The main entry is a pedestrian scaled ‘box’ that’s inserted into the larger glass façade. This creates a smooth transition from outside to inside rather than a jolt. Spatially, the interior has three main spaces with specific uses. The Main Hall has a ceiling of existing Douglas Fir wood trusses that were saved and sandblasted, which spans forty feet across. This space has the impact of ‘Casino’, with two rows of blackjack tables and a catwalk down the middle that leads to the bar. This large central bar, anchors Sammy’s Bar & Grill, which has a live-fire exhibition kitchen, and assorted dining areas for 150 people.
Flanking the main hall are more intimate spaces that are specific to gaming. On one side, which is open to the Black Jack area, are tables for Asian and California games. This is called the Card Tavern. In the other direction is the official ‘Poker Room’, which is named The Saloon. With 18 tables used primarily for playing Texas Hold ‘em, this room is designed to be a discrete experience from the main space. With a reference to Texas, the interior is a bit ‘western’. It has its own bar, and at the end of the room are 2 fireplaces with a massive longhorn steer head above.
Common to all rooms, and like a ribbon running through and around the various spaces, there is a colored plywood wall. This wall is gridded, has curved corners, is mostly red, and is meant to unify the different areas that range from front to back and left to right. The floor plan is quite irregular and so this ribbon acts to join it all together. The front and rear facades are offset grids of multi-colored glass similar to what you would find in a cathedral, yet here it’s been modernized for a casino.
Key materials are:
- The central bar has a zinc top and below it is clad with colored metal tiles reclaimed from shipping containers.
- Custom- built community tables and the host stand are sourced from scrap metal yards in Ohio.
- The flex dining area is designed for events, and a photo-collage runs the length of the room showcasing images from historic gambling halls.
- Dark brown oak floors and dark steel finishes throughout the gaming floor and bar areas are accented with carpets, fabrics, and leathers in dark brown and an abundance of deep red to reference good luck.
- The Saloon’s feature wall of stone is flanked by display cases housing gambling memorabilia and vintage western finishes, including hair-on-hide paneling, fireplaces, and “Twister”, the Texas Steer head.
- The poker check- in is made of vintage safe deposit boxes, blackened steel, and marble.
- The “Card Tavern”, which holds the Asian and California poker tables, has bamboo wood ceilings, art panels made of vintage poker chips from around the world, and a respectful gold Buddha altar in a stone wall, also for good luck.
Photography by Paul Dyer