See feature in Indian Gaming Magazine 

Freshly tailored amenity designs are enhancing guest offerings and aesthetic consistency at Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan.

Since completing a major hotel expansion together ten years ago, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Four Winds Casino operators and the creative team from HBG Design have continued to strategically advance the resort’s appeal with customers and remain responsive to changing market conditions and new branding opportunities.

Like at many other resorts, Four Winds New Buffalo is seeing an increase in the non-gaming market and is accommodating this key market through its renovation program, while also providing new amenities for their core gamers.

Leveraging its scenic Lake Michigan location and proximity within an hour of the Chicago market, Four Winds New Buffalo Casino Resort has transformed into one of Chicagoland’s leading entertainment destinations. The New Buffalo property offers an abundance of amenities for every interest: multiple F&B venues, including the C-Bar lounge at the center of the gaming floor, the brand-new Kankakee Grille offering regular ‘Kankakee Live’ performances, the new Sportsbook Lounge, three retail outlets, the Silver Creek Event Center which offers approximately 40 live performance acts a year, and a luxury hotel. It’s a gamers and non-gamers dream resort.

Recent property renovations completed in early 2022 include the transformation of the property’s former Hard Rock Café into the popular Kankakee Grille. The new venue is a combination of performance venue, bar and restaurant with the ambiance of a casual pub.

The Kankakee Grille dining room provides open views to the Kankakee Live performance stage.

The Kankakee Grille is a branded F&B concept developed and operated by Four Winds Casino at its South Bend property, and now in New Buffalo. The name ‘Kankakee’ refers to the Kankakee River and Kankakee marshlands of the region, which are sacred and protected by the Pokagon.

The two F&B venues are similar in their brand aesthetic with a high contrast, neutral palette, and contemporary transitional design. The New Buffalo grille design also preserves and incorporates the distinctive 12,000 square foot two-level layout, structural framework, and distinguishing metal railings of the former space design, also by HBG Design.

Abstracted cattail and sweet grass designs in the main bar’s divider walls represent the Kankakee River’s edge.

Near the entrance, a former retail shop is converted to the Kankakee Grille’s new private dining room. The main bar and main dining room tables and booths remain situated on existing tiered levels to accommodate optimal views toward the ‘Kankakee Live’ performance stage. Mezzanine level bar seating provides birds eye views to the stage excitement.

A large decorative light canopy hangs over the main bar, and the space is separated from the dining floor by custom decorative screening and stone half walls. Screen ornamentation details tie to significant Tribal motifs, such as abstracted cattail and sweet grass designs to represent the Kankakee River’s edge.

The mezzanine level bar and seating offer intimate birds eye views of the performance stage.

To blend with Four Winds Casino’s natural aesthetic, the F&B design incorporates a very modern interpretation of stacked stone and uses wooden plank textures at the entrance and throughout the venue interior. Branded elements have been reimagined within a subdued natural gray, tan and cream-colored design palette that ties to the casino’s contemporary cultural aesthetic.

The neutral palette allows new rock and roll-inspired artwork to stand out. Multiple art pieces were custom enhanced to integrate rock and roll imagery as backdrops to real guitars from the Four Winds Casino music collection. Culturally significant photographs intermingle with music iconography and framed showcase guitars to create a unique brand language and the inimitable ‘Kankakee Live’ performance experience.

Four Winds New Buffalo Casino Resort continues to grow and stay competitive within the Chicago market, thanks to key business strategies that appreciate the importance of evolving quality and design in the guest experience.