Decades before the Tulalip Resort Casino opened, the Quil Ceda Creek Casino a few miles away was the place to go for gambling in Snohomish County.
In contrast with the resort casino and its high-end restaurants and posh hotel, the Quil Ceda Creek Casino was the place to celebrate your mom’s 67th birthday or your brother-in-law’s promotion at Best Buy.
If the resort casino is a high-heeled stiletto, the Quil Ceda, or the Q for short, was a pair of loafers — comfy, sturdy and fits just right.
All that changed in February, when Quil Ceda Creek Casino opened its new location just off Exit 199 in Tulalip. After one final night of gambling, the former Quil Ceda Creek Casino closed for good after nearly 40 years — only to have the new location, just across the street, open eight hours later, with a ceremonial blessing from Tulalip Tribes.
Though the new location is bigger, sleeker and more state-of-the-art than the former Q, the designers did their best to keep the old casino’s fun-loving aesthetic and simple, down-home charm.
“We weren’t looking to replicate the resort,” said Lorraine Cebollero, vice president of marketing at Tulalip Resort Casino, adding that the old casino eventually will be torn down. “We wanted that cozy ambiance and places where folks could feel at home.”
Tribal officials did not disclose the casino’s construction cost.
In designing the new casino, management went to the experts. They brought together focus groups of hundreds of Q regulars to find out what they wanted in a new venue. What they found helped shape the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino.
“The regulars told us that they like the resort for what it is,” Cebollero said, “but they loved the comfort and intimacy of the Q. They felt like it was an extension of their family. They said it didn’t feel too bright or clean. It was a place where you could get tucked into little corners and really enjoy yourself.”
Keeping that intimate feeling in a building that more than doubles the square footage of the previous property was tricky. The designers used variations in the casino’s ceiling to create a feeling of intimacy. Also despite 50% more gambling machines, more room between the units gives the place a less-congested feel and creates spaces to get lost in.
The casino added 500 gambling machines, bringing its total to 1,500, and three more table games, including two new ones: EZ Baccarat and Craps with Fire Bet.
Outside of gambling, the new Q offers casual and full-service dining, a live entertainment lounge and three full-service bars.
The Kitchen, the casino’s casual eatery, is a food hall concept where customers can check in, choose what they want to eat and pay quickly and efficiently before sitting down to dine. Cebollero said they wanted variety, but didn’t want a food court, which has plenty of options but is clunky and frustrating for customers who want diversity in food options, she said.
The food hall approach is much like a food court in appearance — frybread station here, burritos over there and steak and burgers in the middle — but customers can pick and choose what they want and pay only once.
There are seven restaurants in The Kitchen: Bake ‘n Brew; Breakfast 24/7; Burgers, Steaks and Fish; Pestos; Between Break; Frybread & Soup and World Flavors.
The Kitchen incorporates green design, such as windspeed ovens and induction technologies, reducing energy consumption and waste. Also, catalytic converters dissipate grease into water and CO2, making overhead vents obsolete.
“From the front door to the back door and beyond, the restaurants at the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will be the ‘greenest’ in the Northwest,” said Belinda Hegnes, interim executive vice president of Quil Ceda Creek Casino.
The Landing, the casino’s fine-dining restaurant, will focus on farm-to-table fare from local farms, while also showcasing uniquely designed paddles by tribal artists.
The casino will have three bars, including the Keg Bar, which will feature local craft beer and Northwest wines.
Smack dab between the Keg Bar and The Landing is The Stage, the casino’s entertainment venue. With enough seating for nearly 200 guests, The Stage has one large, well, stage with a giant LED screen background, and is flanked by a pair of 19-foot-wide curved video walls.
Cebollero said that local musicians and comedians will grace the stage, as well as more well-known acts.
A six-floor parking garage with spots for nearly 1,070 cars, stands next to the casino. There are plans to build a hotel on the new site. But for now, the Q will have to leave that to its big sister to the north.
By the numbers
126,700 square feet
1,500 gambling machines
192 types of slot games
16 table games
76 video screens
11 restaurants and bars
1,752 parking stalls
If you go
The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino, 6221 31st Ave. NE, Tulalip, is open 24/7. Go to www.quilcedacreekcasino.com or call 360-716-1700 for more information.
Washington North Coast Magazine
This article is featured in the spring issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www.washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.