All Are Welcome … All The Time!

The grand opening of the completely remodeled 3,400 square foot Paso Robles Casino is underway. The official opening is this month. And, the venue is just great! For the past seventy-four years, Paso has had legitimate gaming mostly under the name Paso Card Room. However, six years ago, that business came up for sale and the Ezzell family bought it and changed the name to Paso Robles Casino.

paso robles casino, ezzell brothers

The Ezzell brothers are ready to deal at the newly renovated Paso Robles Casino. Photo by Chuck Desmond

One brother, Rob, is a nationally-ranked professional poker player based in Half Moon Bay. The other brother, Don, is an energy executive and corporate lawyer in Los Angeles. Rob’s wife, Amy, is a former Corporate Compliance Manager at a pharmaceutical company. Now she is the PRC chef and the “behind the scenes operational manager.” There is a lot to discuss so let’s jump right in.

Based on Rob’s career as a player, the men started looking for a card room in 2010. PRC is an independent California casino and not many casinos come up for sale. Indian casinos with slots are unavailable to non-Indians. Thus, this remains an exclusive business and no new permits are expected to be issued until 2023. The only way ‘in’ is to buy one that is on the way ‘out.’ When Paso Card Room hit the market back in 2011, the team was ready. There was built-in history with loyal clientele located in a growing town that was “darn near paradise.”

Added to the mix is the nice benefit that their location is surrounded by 650 hotel rooms needing a place for people to unwind while in town or just passing through on 101. Those same folks might also want to get a late meal at a nice restaurant they can walk to. The Ezzell brothers wanted to create a first-class one-of-a-kind operation where there would be a casino plus a bar-restaurant combination that would be open to all. In short, they wanted to generate a quality customer-experience with a full food and craft-drinks program that begins at 4 p.m. and stays open until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.

The challenge remained to find a suitable facility that could accommodate an upgraded customer experience. The brothers bought the PCR location despite it being drab and uninspiring with poor modification prospects. Then, in February 2017, the former nearby Las Milpas restaurant came up for sale and it offered a high ceiling space with a kitchen in place. Now, the Ezzell brothers could fulfill the promise of a first-class facility and provide the combination of gaming, super food, and a fabulous bar participating in the craft-drinks revolution.

Construction and remodeling began in earnest in May. A true transformation took place. The hidden high-beamed ceiling was uncovered and custom lighting along with inviting and stylish lounge-areas plus outdoor patios were added. Now there are 10 flat-screen TVs showing sports and poker competitions. The very-long quartzite bar is the largest in Paso and one can order local wines, house-made craft beers (and usual gang of suspects too) and craft-cocktails.

Dining-seating is in the lounge or at the bar where the food served is an upscale American-fare of salads, pastas, bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, meatballs, sandwiches with fresh daily-made breads and local olive oils. Just a few feet away is a niche for Karaoke on weeknights and live music performances on weekends. Yep, there is a cozy dance floor to add to the fun. Most casinos we think or hear about in California are Indian-owned resorts but some are not. There are three card-room casinos in SLO County, and the only one in North SLO County is here in El Paso de Robles.

PRC features “Vegas-style table games” including Blackjack, 3-Card Poker, Spanish 21, Pai-Gow, and Ultimate Hold ‘Em. Occupancy is at 100 people and gaming tables will seat 60. Just enough for fun crowds and comfortable enough for that friendly Paso feeling. Casinos are indeed heavily regulated and scrutinized. The California DOJ, California Gambling Commission, and Paso’s PD, all got a crack at oversight. There are a ton of background checks, security investigations, and fingerprinting requirements for all employees and owners.

Security and surveillance are top priorities for a safe gaming establishment and, after many years of working with the agencies, the Ezzells have it down pat.

Have I kept you in suspense long enough? Now you want to know where the PASO ROBLES CASINO is located? Maybe want to make a date for lunch or dinner and need the phone number? Well it’s simple: PRC is close to the 101-46 East interchange at 1144 Black Oak Drive. Easiest directions are to use 24th Street on the West side of 101 and go North on Riverside to The Oaks Hotel. Turn right and in 0.1 mile, there it is. Call PRC at (805) 226-0500. You’ll feel very welcomed and, for sure, your experience should be really fun — and yummy — or both!