GROVE — With lines of people standing at the doorways, and a larger amount waiting out the cold weather in their cars, Cherokee Casino Grove officials officially welcomed the first guests to its newest facility located north of Sail Boat Bridge on Highway 59.

More than a hundred people were waiting in line at 10 a.m., on Monday, Dec. 19, as the doors opened.

Ruben Espinosa of Oklahoma City, along with Rick Lanier and Steve White, both of Grove, were the first in line.

Espinosa joked the wait, in 17 degree weather, was worth it, because he "wanted to be [one of] the first ones to hit the jackpot."

About the Casino

The new facility, built by RedStone Construction, was completed in less than a year from groundbreaking to grand opening.

The 39,000 square-foot facility, called a "win-win-win" for northeast Oklahoma, the Grand Lake region and Cherokee Nation, by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Cherokee Nation officials plan to host the formal, grand opening celebration in January 2017.

The casino, the 10th location for the Cherokee Nation, is located in the area known locally as Tom Cat Corner, near the intersection of Highway 59 and East 250 Road, in northern Delaware county.

With a groundbreaking in March and a topping ceremony in June, and soft opening in December, the facility located north of Grove and Sail Boat Bridge on Grand Lake, adds more than 170 jobs to the area.

Modeled in part after the facility in Fort Gibson, Cherokee Casino Grove will include electronic machines, a full-service bar and a venue for live music.

Willie Whitekiller serves as the general manager. Randy Ligon of Grove serves as the chef of the new, yet-to-be-named sit-down restaurant, which features a breakfast menu, lunch menu of sandwiches and burgers and a dinner menu with steaks, chicken and seafood.