KISS co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are gambling that Wichitans are ready to roll the dice on a lavish new casino in northern Oklahoma.
Officials broke ground for Stanley’s and Simmons’ Rock & Brews Casino Resort in a large white tent in the parking lot of the existing South Wind Casino early Thursday afternoon.
The casino, which is expected to be complete in about two years and is next to I-35, will be tied to the Rock & Brews concept, a nationwide chain of restaurants that Simmons and Stanley are partners in.
It’s also expected to compete directly with the Kansas Star Casino – Braman, Okla., is 55 miles south of Wichita, or about a 40-minute drive farther south from Mulvane, where the Star is located.
Wichita is the closest major metropolitan area to the Rock & Brews casino.
“For our first casino resort and hotel to be here is an honor for us,” Stanley said. “We’ll be able to pull people in from Tulsa, we’ll be able to pull people in from Wichita, from Oklahoma City, from the surrounding areas, and because Rock & Brews is such a hot up-and-coming phenomenon ... we’ll keep pulling in people from all over the state and all over the country.”
Giving to Kaw Nation
The Rock & Brews Casino Resort is on Kaw Nation land.
Erin Kekahbah, a tribal council member of the Kaw Nation, got emotional as she delivered remarks at the groundbreaking on Thursday.
“It’s going to be the future of our tribe – it’s a proud day,” she said, her voice faltering. “It’s just an unprecedented, exciting time for our future. Not five years from now is all we’re going to be planning for – five generations from now.”
It’s going to be the future of our tribe – it’s a proud day.
Erin Kekahbah, Kaw Nation tribal council member
The casino will ignite the economy around Braman and surrounding areas with more than 1,000 construction and permit jobs, according to Jacque Secondine Hensley, Kaw Nation chairwoman.
The Kaw Nation is a small tribe of about 3,500 people, according to Hensley.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity for Kaw Nation,” she said. “Not only is it going to give jobs to most of our citizens in Kaw Nation ... but it will also give us eyeglasses and dentures and college assistance for our tribal citizens.”
Simmons, the popular KISS frontman, was humble about his and Stanley’s involvement in the project.
“Kaw Nation lives here – it’s their sovereign land,” he said. “They’re in it making sure that not only their children but their children’s children have enough to feed their families but also everybody in their area. You have no idea how fast this is going to get and how great this is going to be for the surrounding community – for the state of Oklahoma.”
About the casino
Once completed, the casino will be the largest in northern Oklahoma by far.
It will be comparable in size to the Kansas Star Casino and will have a high-rise hotel attached. Illustrations of the building plans show what appear to be swimming pools and the KISS logo running alongside the facade of the building.
The interior details of the casino are still being worked out, “but I’m sure they will be spectacular,” according to Kirk Williams, Rock & Brews’ local franchise partner.
“This has been several months of us working together to get to this point,” Williams said. “The energy and enthusiasm of everyone associated with the Kaw tribe has just been infectious to us. On the Rock and Brews side, it became very apparent early on that this was a good partnership and we were going to figure out a way to build in Braman, Oklahoma, the world’s first Rock & Brews Casino Resort.”
But why Braman, Okla., a town of about 217 just south of the Kansas-Oklahoma state line – in a region that already has ample casino competition?
“If we went with the tide and with the trends, we would do a lot of things differently – KISS never would have happened, and here we are 100 million albums later,” Stanley said. “We’re really not aware, ever, of what the trends and styles are.
If we went with the tide and with the trends, we would do a lot of things differently – KISS never would have happened, and here we are 100 million albums later.
Paul Stanley, KISS co-founder and partner in Rock & Brews Casino Resort
“We’re about delivering something that’s quality, and Rock & Brews food is bar none top shelf. It’s not a themed restaurant to sell a T-shirt. It’s not crap food under some guise of being an entertainment restaurant. ... Once we open here, word of mouth will spread very, very quickly that there is no place like Rock & Brews.”
And for those that are wondering, yes, KISS will perform there on occasion – at least according to Simmons.
“Even though this is cloaked around casino resort, you’ll have fun, trust me, you’ll have lots of fun, KISS will be here and lots of other important ... stuff like that. The bottom line is taxes are going to be paid, there’s going to be income for everybody, and jobs will be created,” Simmons said. “How great is that?”
Rock & Brews Casino Resort by the numbers
Hotel – 186,566 square feet
▪ 250 rooms (212 standard plus 38 suites)
▪ Coffee shop (20 seats)
▪ Lobby bar (1,000 square feet)
▪ Spa (6,000 square feet)
▪ Fitness center (1,200 square feet)
Casino – 77,528 square feet
▪ 1,500 slot machines (1,400 plus 100 in high-limits gambling)
▪ 40 table games (32 plus eight in high-limits gaming)
▪ 12 poker tables
▪ Off-track betting (75 seats)
▪ 4 bars (120 seats)
Bingo hall – 17,557 square feet
▪ 750 seats
Conference center – 12,120 square feet
▪ Ballroom (5,000 square feet)
▪ Meeting rooms (1,650 square feet)
Food and beverage areas – 34,115 square feet
▪ Rock & Brews Restaurant (250 seats, stage)
▪ Fine dining (100 seats)
▪ Quick/casual dining (two venues, 100 seats total)
▪ World Tour Cafe (200 seats)
▪ Start Me Up Coffee and Bakery (20 seats)
Retail – 4,400 square feet
▪ Four luxury retail stores, yet to be named
Events center – 38,280 square feet
▪ 1,500-seat multipurpose space
▪ Pre-function space, restrooms
Parking – 2,565 total spaces
Travel Plaza and Truck Stop