Changes under way at Sharkey's

With a change in ownership, comes a change in the way Sharkey's Nugget will look.

While the name will remain the same, new owner Hal Holder said patrons can expect a facelift both inside and outside.

"Sharkey's had slot machines attached to a restaurant," Holder said. "Whereas, we want to have a gaming experience with a restaurant attached."

For the past two weeks, Sharkey's has undergone a makeover. Many of the pictures, art work and memorabilia that made Sharkey's famous have already come down. Replacing them will be a fresh coat of paint, new carpet and new wall hangings.

"We're dressing it up some. We're not putting a common brand on the casino. We're just putting some touches to it that people will be proud of," Holder said.

The memorabilia that has come down from the walls is being appraised, and will be sold at auction, Feb. 22-24 at Holder's largest casino, the Silver Club Hotel and Casino in Sparks.

Other pieces will be given away in drawings and raffles, Holder said.

Expansion plans include knocking down walls to add more slot machines and gaming tables. Currently, there are 135 slot machines. There will be 200 to 250 by this summer and several gaming tables will open. By the end of phase two, there will be 400 slot machines, an expanded kitchen area and an elevator to the second floor.

The original Sharkey's neon marquee will stay, but will be upgraded some with new lights. Inside, more lighting will be added inside the restaurant area and a non-smoking section will be established.

The menu will expand, prices will be lowered and there will be more selections, Holder said.

Also, customers can expect entertainment in the future. Sharkey's will host bands, chili cook-offs, car shows and fund-raisers.

To introduce themselves to the community, Holder Group President and chief operating officer Bruce Dewing gave Douglas High School track coach Keith Cole a $2,500 check to go to the ongoing all-weather track construction project.

The presentation was made Wednesday during the monthly lunch meeting of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

"We had talked about doing something for the community and we read about the coach in The Record-Courier and what he was trying to do," Dewing said. "We thought what he's doing is really admirable and we wanted to do our part."

As part of the Holder Group, all of Sharkey's employees, with the exception of the controller, have been retained, each receiving a raise. And, for the first time, Sharkey's employees will receive medical, dental, vision and 401K retirement benefits.

"When someone works for me, I think it's important that they be treated right," Holder said. "They have rent and bills to pay, and if they need to see a doctor or a dentist, we think they shouldn't have to worry."

It ties in with a management practice that has worked for Holder for years: Treat your employees well, and they will perform optimally. The proof is in the numbers. While Holder wouldn't disclose what his casinos earn, all of them make a profit.

"I want the people who work for us to do anything they can to create a pleasant experience for the people coming into Sharkey's," he said. "Whether it's for a beer in the bar or food or those who come in to game. I would like the employees to always remember the people who walk through the door are our guests, and they should make the environment conducive to our company."


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