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Live like a high roller at Riverside casino

Deanna Truman-Cook

Iowa City Press-Citizen

August 31, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

RIVERSIDE -- Luxury.

It's the one word officials with the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort use to sum up the $140 million facility that opens today.

Step inside and you'll see what they mean.

Water cascades down glass walls, plasma TVs dot the surroundings and a black BMW 2006 Z4 spins around, one of many prizes that can be won on the slot machines.

It doesn't end there.

Above the bar area is a giant water sculpture synchronized to music.

And there are plenty of games: 1,181 slot machines, 24 blackjack tables, four craps tables, two roulette tables, a Pai Gow poker and Caribbean stud poker table each, and a 14-table Poker Room.

There's even a comfy VIP Lounge for all those high-roller customers.

It comes down to luxury, said Dan Kehl, chief executive officer of the casino and resort, as he led a tour of the casino Tuesday afternoon.

When you talk about casinos in Iowa, he said, folks aren't that interested. But when you start talking about a different type of a casino, one where there is a spa, golf course and more, their ears perk up.

"People start to get a lot more interested," he said. "They aren't afraid to drive an hour."

Though Kehl expects the majority of the casino's guests to be from the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area, he envisions people driving from as far away as Des Moines.

Helping lure them in is the entertainment.

The Eagles tribute band Hotel California will give free performances at the casino tonight. At 5 p.m. Saturday, Tom Arnold will perform.

"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno will stop in Sept. 16. Tickets to his show are $120 and $100.

Among the many other performers coming are Buddy Guy on Oct. 20 and the Little River Band on Nov. 3.

"Our entertainment lineup is unbelievable," entertainment manager Rich Bentler said.

Of course, dining always is a big factor at every casino.

At the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort it's a high priority, said executive chef Robert Wright.

He leads a team of skilled culinary artists in four dining outlets.

Among them are Ruthie's Steak & Seafood, offering upscale and elegant dining.

Exceptional is the word Wright chooses when describing the food.

Another dining option is Robert's Buffet, featuring an expansive salad bar and Asian and Italian stations, as well as a Midwest comfort food area.

The Ripple Diner offers an array of sandwiches such as patty melts and tenderloin sandwiches as well as the Mississippi Longboat, catfish fillets served on a French roll with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce.

Last but not least is Ripple Express, open 24-hours-a-day, which offers ice cream, pastries and gourmet coffee.

The resort's 7,200-yard golf course featuring 18 holes is slated to open in the summer of 2007.

All hotel rooms feature a golf course view.

Zender's Salon and Spa, a longtime Iowa City business, will operate the resort's spa.

"We value our partnerships with local businesses and seek to grow those partnerships," Kehl said. "Riverside Casino & Golf Resort is all about Iowans investing in Iowa."

Riverside Casino & Golf Resort

When: Opens 9 p.m. Thursday.
Where: 3184 Highway 22, Riverside. Directions: From I-80 take exit 239A toward Mount Pleasant/Keokuk, take the IA-22 exit toward Kalona/Lone Tree. Turn left onto IA-22.
Information: Call 319-648-1234 or log onto


Hotel California: Tonight, free.
Tom Arnold: 5 p.m. Saturday, free.
Jay Leno: 4 p.m. Sept. 16. Tickets are $120 and $100.
Buddy Guy: Oct. 20. Prices TBA.
The Little River Band, Nov. 3. Prices TBA.
Arnold will be in Show Lounge. All of the other above events will take place in the Event Center.

By the numbers

Total Square Footage: 310,000.
Total Land: 375 Acres.
Casino: 1,181 slot machines.
24 blackjack tables.
4 craps tables.
2 roulette tables.
14 table poker room.
1 VIP lounge.
Golf Course: 18 holes, 7,200 yards.
Hotel: Five story, all rooms with golf course view.
8 suites.
128 king rooms.
65 double queen rooms.
Events Center: 950 seats.
2,700 Spaces for guests and employees.
20 spaces for RVs.


Ruthie's Steak and Seafood: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
Robert's Buffet
Prices may change for holiday specials and specific theme nights.
Monday throught Thursday:
$7.99 Breakfast, served 7 to 10 a.m.
$9.99 Lunch, served 10:30 to 3:30 p.m.
$14.99 Dinner, served 4 to 10 p.m.
Friday through Saturday:
$7.99 Breakfast, served 7 to 10 a.m.
$14.99 Brunch, served 10:30 to 4 p.m.
$14.99 Dinner, served 4 to 11 p.m.
$7.99 Breakfast, served 7-10 a.m.
$14.99, Brunch, served 10:30-2 p.m.
$14.99 Dinner, served 2-10 p.m.
Ripple Express
Serves gourmet coffee, fresh pastries, and ice cream. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ripple Diner
Sunday through Thursday: 6 a.m. to midnight.
Friday through Saturday: 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.