Frank Lopez" />

Kyle Kirkland, owner of Club One Casino, said that he is eager to open up the cardroom after being shut down for nearly 16 months. Photos by Frank Lopez

published on July 1, 2021 - 12:29 PM
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After being closed for nearly a year and a half, Club One Casino, the cardroom formerly in Downtown Fresno, will be opening at its new location at Granite Park.

Club One Casino, which had been at its location on Van Ness Avenue next to the Radisson Hotel for more than 25 years, will be moving into the space formerly occupied by Club Imperio nightclub.

Kyle Kirkland, owner of Club One Casino said that he is eager to open up the cardroom after being shut down for nearly 16 months, get people back to work, and generate some tax revenue for the city.

The former Club Imperio space at Granite Park is about 33,000 square feet.

 

The entire square footage of the building is 33,000 square feet. The last time the space was open was around December 2019, Kirkland said.

Kirkland said that he went to the city and explained how the space would be a perfect spot to relocate the cardroom.

“We came in and said ‘the whole building is 33,000 square feet—we have AC, we have power, we have plumbing, we have a kitchen—we can figure out how to get the cardroom in here temporarily, and build out the rest of the building, and ultimately move the cardroom in there,’” Kirkland said.

Renovations are currently underway in the stage area for a temporary space for a cardroom to allow space for 25 card tables, a bar, and a dining area. The temporary card room space will cover about 13,000 square feet, and once renovations to the entire building are completed, the card room will be moved, and temporary space will be converted to a restaurant and event center.

Once the entire building is renovated, Kirkland hopes to have 51 card tables at Club One.

“The key for us is to get up and going, get people back to work, and start paying the city again,” Kirkland said. “We didn’t expect to be closed for about 16 months.”

In February, The City of Fresno modified its cardroom ordinance, which allowed Club One Casino to move locations. Club One Casino vacated its downtown location permanently in October.

Renovations for the new location began late February.

Kirkland said Club One is in the process of purchasing the building and that there is an option to buy the empty dirt lot behind it. It could be used for a hotel or extra parking, but there are no plans yet.

The cost to complete the renovations for the entire building, and with the land options, is about $10 to $12 million.

The outside façade of the building is also being renovated, along with and outside patio area that will have a bar feature, tables, and screens to watch sports events. Outside dining areas in the new location are an advantage over the downtown space, Kirkland said.

Massive beehives were discovered in the walls at the former Club Imperio space, requiring removal by Grandma Sugar’s Lavender & Bee Farm.

 

When the work was first starting, crews discovered massive beehives in some façade wall openings and columns. One of the hives had over 200,000 bees and beekeepers were contacted to relocate the hives.

Contractors and interior designers are working on the main buildout and style of the new casino, but Kirkland said he is just trying to get the place operational.

Kirkland said that the cardroom will bring more economic activity to the area, as well as provide security, which is encouraging to the surrounding businesses.

The cardroom will be trying to start its opening with about 200 employees, but he does expect to be understaffed for 12 to 18 months because of the unpredictable labor market.

There are already a lot of guests that are calling Club One Casino in anticipation of the opening day, and Kirkland expects an influx of people once it opens.

Kirkland said they are shooting to open around the end of July.

“All this is just to get it functional,” Kirkland said. “We put paint to it, added carpet—I don’t want to understate it because we put thought and energy into this, but we are seeing this as a two-year space as we build out the rest of it.”


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