HAWTHORNE, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- When you think of gaming properties in the Silver State, Las Vegas, Reno and Stateline at Lake Tahoe instantly come to mind, but News 4 takes a look at the storied history and charm of one of Nevada's oldest active hotel-casinos that you might not think of.
"I think this property qualifies as an iconic place in central Nevada," says NorthStar Casinos Corporate VP of Operations Mac Potter.
If you've ever made the trek between Reno and Las Vegas, you've likely driven right by the front door. The El Capitan Hotel and Casino has proudly done business along Highway 95 in Hawthorne since the 1930s, with it's heyday coming during the area's boom in World War II when thousands of soldiers were either stationed here or tripped through the town on their way to defending our country.
About 100 people are employed full-time at the El Capitan and Potter says these folks pride themselves on Nevada hospitality.
"For us, it's maintaining that positive guest service attitude, being responsive, being warm and friendly, always a 'welcome to our place', and a 'thanks for coming', and 'come back soon and see us'," Potter says.
But, like many famous locations in the Silver State, the El Cap has plenty of stories to tell. Some may be more folklore than others. One of the more unique features about the El Capitan in Hawthorne is something that you can't even see: it's underground. Legend says that, back in the 1940s, there was a tunnel that linked the El Capitan to the Monte Carlo across the street. It's been shut down for decades.
So what did they transport between the two casinos? How about booze and women.
Another story says the El Cap burned down in 1942 as a result of a brawl between some Marines and a group of locals. That tale says the El Cap was quickly rebuilt, and it's classic 1960s Nevada casino facade continues until this day. Despite the boom and bust that the hardy people of this tight knit community have gone through over the years, the El Cap has endured with them.
"The key to it is treating every guest like they're very, very important," Potter says. "Never take for granted that you're the place they're gonna stop. Always make sure that they know you value their business and you want them to come back."
A hard working community, working even harder to keep the customer happy.