Casino Gambling

Here’s an inside look at new rock ‘n’ roll casino planned at former Margaritaville site

It’s quite a leap from Margaritaville and the tropics to KISS and rock ‘n’ roll, yet that’s what is planned for Biloxi’s next casino.

A letter of intent has been signed to make what was Margaritaville Casino Biloxi on the Back Bay into the newest Rock & Brews, said Tom Moore with developer RAM Group. The chain of Rock & Brews restaurants, hotels and now casinos is owned in part by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the class rock band KISS.

The iconic band is scheduled to play on the Ides of March, March 15, at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.

“That’s a good coincidence,” said Chris Taylor, one of the investors in the casino in East Biloxi. “It’d sure be fun to do a ribbon cutting.”

Before that ceremonial first step, these new plans for the casino resort must go back to the Biloxi Planning Commission and City Council and to the Mississippi Gaming Commission for approval.

The casino last was proposed as Biloxi House, with the look and feel of old Biloxi. This new incarnation will be Biloxi contemporary, still with the wood and steel planned in the original version, but with something extra throughout, he said.

What Rock & Brews will bring, said Adam Goldberg, the company’s chief executive officer, is the rock and roll experience into all aspects of the property, from the lobby and hotel rooms to the casino, restaurants and bars.

Unlike Hard Rock Biloxi, this casino won’t be a museum of rock memorabilia, he said, but a full interactive experience that can be changed when KISS or another band comes to town or tributes when a rock legend dies.

Biloxi in sight

Goldberg was in Biloxi last week.

“It’s been on our target list,” he said, but the company wanted to be sure they had the right partners.

The $200 million casino resort, at the end of Fifth Street in Biloxi, will have what is required by the Gaming Commission — a 300-room hotel, a fine dining restaurant, a 40,000 square foot or larger casino and a parking garage. It also will have that unique amenity to grow the market, although the developers aren’t ready to reveal what they have planned.

It also will have a swimming pool, concert venue and event space where parties and even weddings can be held, along with several options for eating and drinking.

“We don’t have to redesign the whole property,” Taylor said. Cuningham Group, and architectural firm in Biloxi that designed the Biloxi House, will work with design team from Rock & Brews. The resort will be built by Roy Anderson and AnderCorp, he said.

Big players

Rock & Brews also was founded by hotel and restaurant developer Michael Zislis, along with Dave Furano, a concert tour promoter for the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead, and his brother Dell Furano. They now have 22 stores, 2 casinos being built and several airport concessions coming online.

“It’s all about the partnerships,” Goldberg said.

That partnership encompasses celebrities who will bring their flair and food to Biloxi:

Stanley and Simmons of KISS are very involved in every Rock & Brews, tasting food and helping decide how the properties will look, Taylor said. “They enjoy being part of our brand,” and they are selling out every stop on their 3-year tour. “People are listening to more rock ‘n’ roll than they have for years,” he said. “The greats of the greats are still out there playing.”

Comedian George Lopez will bring his Chingon Kitchen, a Mexican restaurant and experience, to this new Biloxi casino. It also features a full tequilla bar.

Collin Cowherd, a well-know sports analyst who hosts The Herd on Fox Sports Radio, now has his own hamburger cafe and The Herd burger. It is targeted to be part of The Brews Hall, a new concept that is a cross between an all-you-can-eat casino buffet with the option of dining a la carte in the same place.

Start Me Up Coffee is a new brand that will be inside the Biloxi resort and feature a coffee shop menu. Taylor said Rock & Brews likes to work with local companies and features 30% or more local of regional breweries, distilleries and coffee roasters. The food is made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients.

“That’s really important,” Taylor said. “You keep the dollar within the local economy.”

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.