The family behind a longtime Roseland restaurant with humble origins and one of Sonoma County's most prominent chefs will be among those running eateries in the Graton Resort & Casino when it opens later this year outside Rohnert Park.
La Fondita, which grew out of a taco truck launched in 1996, and a gourmet fast food chicken stall run by Douglas Keane, who was chef at the county's most decorated restaurant, Cyrus, will occupy two of nine spaces in the casino's food marketplace.
Also among the casino's 13 eating and drinking establishments will be celebrity Chinese chef Martin Yan's M.Y. China, which will be a standalone restaurant, and Boathouse Sushi, which has Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park restaurants now and plans a more pan-Asian menu for the casino marketplace.
"It's a huge opportunity, something I couldn't have hoped for," said Maria Elena Reyes, the matriarch of La Fondita, a bustling Sebastopol Road restaurant, and Delicias Elenita, its taco truck next door.
"We're thinking of doing it 24 hours," said her son Ivan Reyes. "The casino's a nonstop thing."
M.Y. China partner David Dodson said the company — which has one other, slightly smaller restaurant near San Francisco's Union Square — expects to open Nov. 1 in an 8,000-square-foot space with 240 seats, a wok bar and a noodle-pulling bar, and a mezzanine overlooking the dining room.
Station Casinos, which is to manage the casino for seven years, approached Yan's company early, Dodson said.
"What they were looking for was something more elevated than an ethnic Chinese restaurant, something that would appeal to a Caucasian and broader demographic," he said.
M.Y. China's prices should average roughly $20 per diner for lunch and $30 for dinner and it will be open for lunch and dinner, Dodson said.
The other stand-alone restaurants are: Tony's Pizza, created by Tony Gemignani of Tony's Pizza Napoletana of San Francisco; the Daily Grill; and 630 Park Steakhouse, a local version of a high-end Station Casinos' restaurant found in two of its other casinos.
The other food marketplace restaurants are: Tony's Slice House, also run by Gemignani; Beach Hut Deli; Habit Burger Grill; Roadside BBQ; and Scoops, an ice cream shop featuring organic Three Twins Ice Cream, a brand started by Neal Gottlieb of Petaluma. There will also be a Starbucks.
"We want to populate our lineup with names that people in this part of the country know and respect and trust," said Joe Hasson, general manager of the Graton casino.
All the restaurateurs are going to lease space from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which owns the casino. Under tribal rules, employees are to be paid from 10 percent to 30 percent more than prevailing Bay Area restaurant wages, depending on whether or not they earn tips, said Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris, a Delicias Elenita regular.
Keane, whose Cyrus garnered two Michelin stars, said he and business partner Nick Peyton had been looking for a new venture in Sonoma County after their Healdsburg restaurant shut in November following a legal fight over its lease. They chose the casino over offers in Napa Valley and Las Vegas.
"What really sold me on it was the design, the amount of detail and care they put into it," Keane said.
"I have had fast food style concepts, casual things, that I've wanted to do for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity," he said. "I think it's going to be huge."
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