Lakeside Inn and Casino 168 • Highway 50, Stateline, NV 89449 • Toll-free: 800-624-7980, Local: 775-588-7777

History of Lakeside Inn and Casino

June 06, 2017

What does it take to be a landmark? It takes having interesting stories from the past live on. The Lakeside Inn has no shortage of stories.  It has seen it all from multiple ownership changes, fire, and even a robbery attempt. Lakeside Inn and Casino has only been around since 1985, but it's a fascinating story of how we got here.

Originally, there was a small inn and casino in the location where Lakeside sits now called Caesar's Inn that opened in 1969. That was short lived as it was sold to Harvey Gross in 1972 and became Harvey's Inn. Along with the purchase of Caesar's Inn, Mr. Gross bought much of the surrounding land including the Sky Harbor Airport and Casino (yes...there was an actual airport there) located across Kahle Drive in what is now Rabe Meadows.

In 1973, during renovations to the new Harvey's Inn, while workers were welding in the newly remodeled casino, a spark created a fire that engulfed the building. In the aftermath of the fire, there was heavy damage to the new casino area and motel lobby along with water damage to the restaurant area. But, Harvey's Inn bounced back from the fire until the passing of Harvey Gross in 1983. In 1985, the property was sold to original Lakeside Inn and Casino owners Bill Kartozian, Dick Jeha, and Stan Sperling. Mike Bradford would later replace Stan Sperling as co-owner in 1991.

Lakeside has always been considered the local's casino since its opening in 1985 and dates back to when it was Harvey's Inn. It has been a place where casino employees and locals getting off work came to cash checks, catch up with friends, and have fun. In fact, some long time guests still refer to it as Harvey's Inn. According to some long-term employees, it was known as the local's place and where to go if you wanted to get away from the tourist crowds.

In the early days of Lakeside Inn, table games were a big draw and accounted for a majority of the casino revenue.  These days, a higher percentage of a casino's revenue is from slot machines. Lake Tahoe casinos were thriving in the late 1980s and early 1990s because of limited gaming jurisdictions. The rise of Indian casinos caused a slow decline in casino revenue in Lake Tahoe. But Lakeside kept the local interest by offering a beloved paycheck wheel with cash, food, and other prizes.

Lakeside Inn has etched out its own identity in the South Lake Tahoe casino landscape. In its infancy, the company suffered a bit of an identity crisis trying to figure out how to compete and capture an audience. Lakeside set itself apart by measuring success differently from the competition. That was done in one step by valuing relationships with guests over financial reports. It became the main focus that the independently run company give everyone the local experience by providing excellent service and building lasting relationships. 

During renovations of the casino bar, many regular guests wrote on our temporary construction wall and the relationship between Lakeside and the community was felt. Guests would sign the wall, much like someone would a cast, showing love and support. One of the more memorable things written on the wall was a checklist of activities to complete before you are considered a local. It included things like hiking Mt. Tallac and mountain biking the Flume trail.

Lakeside does not have a shortage of interesting stories. Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson once held an intimate impromptu jam session in the late 1980s. There was even an attempted armed robbery in 1987, but luckily no staff or guests were hurt. Our famous Super Mario burrito was the creation of a Latin Soul employee named Mario Gallardo. He created the burrito as a secret menu item that only a few people knew about. It was so delicious that word spread quickly and was formally placed on the menu. It is still one of our most popular items.

Any company's success has a direct correlation to its staff. Fortunately, Lakeside has been lucky enough to have some of the most remarkable staff over the years. Shirley Stroud was one of those exemplary employees who demonstrated excellent service, attitude, courage, and a caring character. In her memory, Lakeside has created its highest award of excellence to recognize employees who share her spirit. All staff members are encouraged to exceed guests' expectations with friendliness and fun. 

Sometimes that fun means playing epic April Fools jokes on the town. One of the most notorious pranks was the article planted in the newspaper claiming Lakeside was building a ranch and raising cattle for our restaurants in adjacent Rabe Meadows. Another great prank was creating serious buzz about building a tower on property that would have a zip line across the lake to Emerald Bay. These pranks were a way to engage with the community and show them Lakeside's fun side, even if it's just for a laugh.

Lakeside Inn and Casino has made changes over time, including much of the original layout. In the early 1990s, weddings and receptions were held in the banquet rooms. In 2001, the entire lower casino floor was completely remodeled, converting the banquet rooms to what is now The Tavern bar, Latin Soul Restaurant, and the Race and Sports Book. The arcade where many local kids grew up in during the 1980s and 1990s was converted into The Poker Room in 2005.

While all of the local casino landscape has changed from independent to corporate ownership, Lakeside Inn has been independently owned since opening its doors in 1985. In a world where everything changes at the blink of an eye, Lakeside has stayed consistent in remaining the same. The values taught to each employee are to exceed guest expectations with friendliness, quality, innovation and fun. When you have a winning recipe for success you don't need to change a thing. 

 

 

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