Boomtown Renovates Buffet To Protect Its Niche

Boomtown Casino has used its buffet and its bakery to create a niche for itself in a very competitive market. Recently, Boomtown began a massive makeover of both amenities. Chett Harrison is Boomtown's General Manager.

"After 14 years in the market, we've never really updated and upgraded our food offerings," he admitted.

And that's made it a bit more difficult for Boomtown to compete against Biloxi's other casinos.

Boomtown marketing director Sandra Kirke said the casino launched its buffet makeover because gamblers deserved more.

"I think it's time for them to have a change," she said.

And so two-and-a-half months ago, Boomtown gutted its buffet.

"It's really hurt our traffic," conceded Harrison. "We can't wait to get it back open next week."

Neither can the gamblers. Ronnie Cumberland is a platinum member of Boomtown's wild bunch. She's a frequent visitor on the gaming floor and at the buffet.

"I always thought it was a great buffet," she said. "I'm very excited to see all the new improvements that they're going to make."

Boomtown's parent company is currently Penn National Gaming. But it's about to close a deal to sell all of its casino ventures. So, most capital improvements like the buffet renovations have been tabled. However, to remain competitive in Biloxi, Penn National put $4 million into the budget, specifically for Boomtown to give its most profitable non-gaming amenity a facelift.

"Local visitors come very frequently, and they expect good food," Harrison said. "So it's critical, it's absolutely critical."

Because without the buffet, Harrison said his casino would lose a competitive advantage.

Boomtown is the only Harrison County casino without a hotel. And while casino executives have talked about building one on their back bay property, a hotel hasn't been included in Boomtown's master plan.

The Boomtown Buffet returns on January 19.