Eat, Stay and Play at Twin Pine Casino
October 30, 2020
It’s seven o’clock in Middletown, California. The sun has just set, leaving its last beams to stretch across the rugged Mayacamas Mountains. As the last glimmer of purple eases from the ridges of Mount St. Helena, the lights around Twin Pine Casino begin to glimmer.
Located approximately thirty minutes north of Calistoga and just south of Middletown, a rural town with an incredible art gallery and spectacular Thai food, Twin Pine has been a part of the Middletown community for decades. It annually hosts free Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, Holiday Faires, an Easter Eggstravaganza, and Indian days. Even more importantly, Twin Pine supports the local community and serves as an evacuation and community resource center during fires and power outages.
And, like everyone else, Twin Pine has had to adapt. Following the COVID shut down in March, Twin Pine made some large adjustments to ensure that the guests were safe when they visited.
“Before we reopened in June, we put a plan in place to provide the cleanest and safest environment for our customers and employees. Our focus since reopening has been on cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing,” says Kyle Lewis, Director of Marketing and Guest Services for Twin Pine. He’s standing just outside the Harvest Club booth, ensuring Trudy and I get set up for the evening. “Temperatures are being taken upon entry for all guests and employees, and masks are required,” he continues. “We are now a non-smoking casino, and every other slot machine has been turned off or had a plexiglass barrier placed between it to ensure proper social distancing.” He glances around the casino at the slot machines, each glowing purple, red, and blue underneath the starry ceiling. “We also created our ‘Green Team.’ The Green Team are employees dedicated to disinfecting slot machines and commonly touched surfaces.”
It’s a protocol followed to exaction. On the immaculately clean gaming floor, a voice comes over the speakers at regular intervals. “Please push the service button when you are finished at your machine,” it says. “This allows our team to sanitize.” As each service light pops up, employees meticulously wipe the machine area down. Posters on stands throughout the casino read “Play Fun. Feel Safe.”
Kyle turns his eyes back from the machines and looks into the Harvest Club building. Jennifer stands behind a plexiglass window, smiling. “Can you get them set up?” he asks.
“Sure,” Jennifer replies, swinging her long, straight hair across her shoulder.
“Alright, then. Have a great evening.” We say our goodbyes, and as Kyle heads off, we turn to Jennifer.
“So,” she begins. “Let’s get you going.”
And she helps us navigate the process cheerily and patiently, explaining several times which machines we can use and how to use them. “Oh, don’t worry, she breezily says when we ask her the same question a third time. “I wouldn’t have known what to have done two years ago, either.” She smiles and hands us our Harvest Club cards. “Have a fun evening!” she says as we wander over to the Grapevine Bar & Lounge for dinner.
A mirrored bar stretches across the back wall of the restaurant; red neon lights accent the brick walls that arch overhead. Tables are spaced appropriately and thoroughly cleaned after each use. On each one sits a sign: “This table has been sanitized for your protection.” People chat over their food as a football game plays on a television overhead. The Grapevine always has good steak, and they cook it right. Also, on Mondays through Thursdays, they have a $12.29 prime rib special that’s well worth giving a try.
After dinner, Trudy and I wander over to the slots to play. We look around a bit and then settle down at one, Trudy sitting in the chair as I look over her shoulder.
“David,” I don’t know what to do,” she looks at the machine and then at me, a question in her eyes. I look at it, slightly dazzled by the bright lights, and notice a security guard walking by.
“Excuse me,” I ask. “Could you help us out?”
“Sure,” he replies, swerving from his path and smiling underneath his mask. His name badge hangs from his shirt. Wes, it says. “Let me have a look.”
Wes takes a peek at the machine and sees our issue. “You have to enter your pin now,” he says. “That’s what you missed.” He then politely turns away as Trudy enters her pin. “Now you can bet,” he continues patiently, watching her through the process until both Trudy and I understand how to use the machine.
“You all set?” Wes asks as we get settled.
“Yes,” Trudy replies. “Thank you so much.”
“Not a problem,” he responds. “If you need anything else, let me know. Good luck!” he says as he walks off.
Trudy smiles and turns toward the machine. “Well,” she says, “Here we go!”
After Trudy and I finish on the machines, we make our way to our room, which is spotless and immaculately clean. This wasn’t, however, our first overnight stay at Twin Pine. Almost two years ago, in the middle of a January storm that rained over fifteen inches in twenty-four hours and blew gusts up to sixty, a massive pine tree fell on our house, severely damaging the roof and pouring water into our home.
As I stood there in the living room, looking at the branches poking through the roof and watching the drywall on the ceiling fall in huge clumps on the floor, the first place I thought to go was Twin Pine; it was late at night, and we knew that we could get a room and a bite to eat. As we walked into the lobby, sopping wet and dazed from packing in a tree-filled house, we were met with kindness and understanding. People went out of their way to help us and make our stay comfortable. When we left, we felt appreciated and cared for.
And that’s one of the best parts about Twin Pine. It’s common to run into employees who are kind and go the extra mile to help out. Every time we visit, we run into another person who treats us politely and with a friendly smile; and it’s not just once or twice. That’s one big reason why Twin Pine Casino is a vital part of our community. And if you’re looking for a clean, COVID-safe place to dine, stay, and play, Twin Pine’s a good bet.
To enjoy an evening or a night at Twin Pine Casino, give them a call or visit their website.
Twin Pine Casino is located at:
This article first appeared in The Bloom. To read more like it, visit their website.