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By George! Durango tavern welcomes food, fun, betting

Updated December 6, 2023 - 3:51 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is at The George Sportsmen’s Lounge at Durango Resort & Casino, which opened its doors Tuesday. This is a fine entertainment venue. It’s also a Fine Entertainment venue, as founder Jonathan Fine’s company operates the space.

STN runs the sportsbook connected to the bar-restaurant-entertainment destination in the southwest valley. It’s a magical pairing, as I have a hot-honey chicken sandwich, fries and FizzyWater.

Fine has been working Las Vegas hospitality companies for better than two decades with his first PKWY Tavern. But this is his first partnership in a Station Casinos hotel-casino. A series of events led to the meeting of these Vegas companies and families.

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As Fine tells it, the idea with his first PKWY Taverns was to create a locals-friendly tavern with gaming and tap into (pun intended) the craft-beer trend spreading across the country. Fine Entertainment had been running clubs in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas and Nashville.

Fine felt that his company could fill the void in the same way a frothy ale could fill an empty mug.

Then, about a decade ago, when sports betting became legal via apps on smartphones, Fine seized that trend, too.

“It made sense that all these locals, instead of running into a casino to make bets, you’re gonna make your bet on your phone,” Fine says. “So we said, ‘Let’s make it a tavern with craft beer, and a sports bar where people can make their bets.”

Fine relayed that story to Station owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III.

“Basically, they said, ‘What we want to do is something that’s more entertainment, that integrates into our sportsbook,’” Fine said. “What I always imagined, you have to make your gaming window half the size of all your other places, force people onto the app, because it’s going to give them a better experience. They’re going to have more fun, and be able to do in-game betting and a lot more stuff.”

“They can also sit and have a 32-ounce Tomahawk steak.”

Or play cornhole, or enjoy music, on the back deck. The spot is is outdoors, but covered, and feels like it’s just a modification away from utilizing a retractable roof. Fine said such an all-weather feature was among the venue’s original design concepts.

Monitors hang everywhere around the book and the restaurant. Those can be arranged in multiple grids, covering 4,375 square feet. The outdoor LED wall covers 70 feet. The patio seats about 260, offering bands and DJs nightly.

The George, case you’re interested, is derived from the term “George,” meaning of highest quality and standards. A George has also been used to describe a generous tipper.

At this George, as you look out from the restaurant and bar, the layout has a sense of a scaled-down Westgate Superbook or Circa Sports Book. Giant LED panels loom over the sport book seating area and its connected STN bar. Monitors hang everywhere around the restaurant.

Fine joked that sports fans could enjoy a date night and watch the game or games of interest and still seem like they are gazing at their partners. Or, when the screens are set for a dozen games, to watch them all at once.

It takes years to learn such a skill, and Mr. Fine has put in his time.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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