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Paso Robles’ only casino gets new, bigger location

The 1144 Black Oak Drive space once occupied by Las Milpas Cafe Grill, where Paso Robles Central Coast Casino will operate starting in July.
The 1144 Black Oak Drive space once occupied by Las Milpas Cafe Grill, where Paso Robles Central Coast Casino will operate starting in July.

Paso Robles Central Coast Casino customers will soon be able to play poker in a new and improved location — just across the parking lot from the card room’s current home.

The gambling establishment, at 1124 Black Oak Drive, plans to move into the old Las Milpas Cafe Grill at 1144 Black Oak Drive, closer to Highway 101. Co-owner Don Ezzell — who has operated the business with his family for about six years — said he purchased the building last month and is in the process of completing renovations.

The new building gives the casino about 400 square feet of additional room. Its current location in an old Pizza Hut has about 2,800 square feet of space, while its new location will have 3,200 square feet, Ezzell said.

“It’s a little bit bigger,” he said. “But most importantly, it has higher ceilings.”

Ezzell said the new building presents “a terrific opportunity to enhance our customer experience” with new features, such as a better bar and improved restrooms. He declined to disclose how much the building and renovations cost, but he said they represent a “significant investment.”

This isn’t the first time the Ezzells have considered moving the casino to another part of town. In 2014, they entered into a contract to purchase a property on 1649 Ramada Drive, near Firestone Walker Brewing Co., intending to relocate the business.

But City Council members denied the move — which required a zoning change — after Firestone co-founder Adam Firestone said he didn’t think the area was an appropriate venue for the casino.

The city Planning Commission on Tuesday voted 4-1 to allow the current move with two commissioners absent. This move requires only a conditional-use permit and doesn’t need City Council approval.

Although there was some discussion about the casino’s operating hours — Ezzell said it will be open from 11 to 2 a.m. every day — the Planning Commission opted to approve it, said Darren Nash, an associate planner.

“So far, there’s been a good history, at least in the past several years, with the operator,” said Darcy Delgado, an assistant planner.

Ezzell is confident the new location and amenities will draw additional business. He said the new location will likely have a grand opening in July.

“We are anticipating we’ll get a lot of new customers, including tourists,” he said.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

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