Toledo's four newest restaurants open today, all under the same roof.
The roof happens to be enormous -- 125,000 square feet or so, covering Hollywood Casino Toledo. With an estimated average of 7,600 gamblers expected to come through the doors each day, that means a lot of hungry people looking for a lot of food.
Overseeing a busy staff that makes sure they all get fed is Brian Hein, the casino's new executive chef. At 42, he has been in restaurants for 20 years, since graduating from the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Culinary Institute. He began working in restaurants in his native Kansas City, Kan., and worked his way up in a couple of national chains. When Ameristar Casinos came calling 10 years ago, he gladly made the jump to the small but satisfying world of casino food service.
"The great thing is we have resources," he said of casinos. "It's not just a money thing. It's a passion. It's when you wake up and say, 'I get to go to work today.'"
The office Mr. Hein goes to now consists of the four restaurants, a lounge, and the seven kitchens that serve them. Along with his many administrative duties and his frequent solicitation of feedback to see what is working well and what needs to be improved, he will also take his place on the line in the kitchen, cooking with the staff as a way of leading by example.
The four restaurants and one lounge that he oversees vary greatly in style, ambience, and food selection. The variety is a way to appeal to everyone and every budget -- provided the customers are over 21, of course. No one under 21 will be admitted to the casino.
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