BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Hard Rock Hotel and Casino announced partnerships with five Bristol businesses last week, and that has those small business owners excited for the upcoming opening of the temporary casino.
The local partnerships were announced last week in Hard Rock’s pitch to the Virginia Lottery Board to receive its operator’s license for the casino.
The five businesses announced as partners were The Southern Churn, The Birthplace of County Music Museum, Blackbird Bakery, Bristol Artisan Company and Greene’s Seafood.
The Southern Churn owner Karen Hester said she hopes to see more partnerships developed at Hard Rock because they could prop up businesses across Bristol.
“I think it’s going to change the landscape of Bristol here, bring lots of travelers in, lots of folks to Bristol, and it’s going to help all businesses here,” Hester said.
Hester’s fudge and other candy products will be available in Hard Rock’s cafe, even as soon as the opening of the temporary casino in just a couple months.
“To be able to deliver to someone right in our backdoor and to have a client like Hard Rock Casino, that makes everybody here proud,” Hester said.
Greene’s Seafood owner Marty Greene said he will provide fresh fish and shrimp for restaurants in the casino.
Greene said the partnership could bring people from the casino to the other elements of his business.
“We’re very excited to be able to supply them, especially with all the folks coming in,” Greene said. “We believe it will help us get an overflow back into our retail business as well as our restaurant here.”
Two restaurants are planned for the temporary casino and five in the permanent hotel and casino.
With a full hotel and casino coming in 2024, Greene said he is anxiously waiting for thousands of people from across the country to try his seafood products.
“I believe this will be a destination. From New York down to Florida, it’s going to be one of the few places that has the venue that they’re going to have here,” Greene said. “It helps business all the way around.”
In the presentation to the Virginia Lottery Board, Hard Rock announced its partnership with Blackbird Bakery will “create some new inviting treats,” including a cider donut ice cream sandwich.
The Birthplace of County Music Museum Executive Director of Advancement Leah Ross said the partnership with Hard Rock involves “working together to make Bristol a greater destination for music-loving travelers.”
Bristol Artisan Company owner Fred Sexton said he has been commissioned for work at other Hard Rock properties, and will continue that relationship in Bristol.
Hester also has a prior history with Hard Rock – one that started when Hard Rock first scouted the area as a potential location for a new casino.
“They came in the store and discovered our fudge and we met and talked, and we first started putting it in the Florida location, and since then we’re now in the Cincinnati location and the Indiana location,” Hester said.
Hard Rock officials said they plan to announce more local partnerships in the future. Greene said he supports that for the betterment of Bristol businesses.
“You want your local businesses to grow. That’ll help the whole community grow as a whole. We’re really big on supporting local,” Greene said.
The temporary casino in Bristol opens July 8.
The full Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is slated to open in Summer 2024.