A Fresh Look in No Time: Seven Clans Casino Achieves Rapid Transformation

The Seven Clans Casino in Thief River Falls, Minn., is boasting a fresh look that has both staff and patrons wild with excitement. Part of the flagship property of the Red Lake Tribe, the casino is a large part of the property’s appeal. Located near many beautiful parks, historical sites and the property’s own water park, it offers not just an incredible gaming experience, but a myriad of activities all can enjoy. Ever since its original construction in the early 1990s, there have not been any significant upgrades to it … until now. Seven Clans decided it was time for a fresh look to draw more appeal and it quickly set about changing things up. Within just three months, I-5 Design & Manufacture—the interior designer and contractor on the project—gave Seven Clans Thief River Falls Casino a complete makeover.

An Innovative Approach Seven Clans Casino’s Players Club.
Seven Clans Casino’s Players Club.

Both operator and designers shared the same goals for the casino’s renovation. Their main objective was to create a design and upgrade plan that would result in a stunning transformation of the interior, while maintaining a warm and welcoming environment for casino patrons. As Seven Clans hoped to have this upgrade achieved quickly, with minimal interruption to normal operations, speed and efficiency were key. I-5 Design committed itself to providing this and focused on ensuring an efficient transformation of the space. The company’s innovative manufacture and implementation upgrade solutions dramatically minimized downtime to the property during the upgrade and allowed for the complete on-site implementation to be performed within six weeks. Joe Jordan, account executive at I-5 Design, explains, “Because of our very unique three-stage project approach, which involves design, manufacture and on-site implementation, each project requires our design and production teams to work closely together, providing a precise overall project plan and approach.”

The bar at the Malt Shop.
The bar at the Malt Shop.
Many of the specialty décor, lighting and signage elements were prefabricated in I-5’s production facility, then shipped to Seven Clans Casino and implemented throughout the space. The manufacture and on-site installation was completed in just three months. The implementation of the design elements was performed in phases to ensure little interruption to the casino’s operations. Each phase included a complete transformation of the walls, ceilings, columns, lighting, HVAC and electrical modifications, and specialty décor elements. While each area of the gaming floor was being upgraded, specialty partitions were put up to hide the construction and maintain a clean environment, enabling patrons to continue gaming throughout the entire project. In addition, the “Malt Shop” restaurant was completely transformed to provide a classic 1950s-era, classic car-themed dining venue.

Cultural Influences
The Red Lake Tribe wanted the design plan to stay true to both culture and environment, and opted for a classic Minnesota lodge design throughout the gaming floor. Situated in Northern Minnesota amidst wild, lush greenery, Thief River Falls was first developed as a lumber-milling town. I-5 Design used this bit of history and the town’s natural surroundings as inspiration for the project. Inside the casino, their vision is reflected in the large, full-color birch tree murals, river rock columns, wood beam elements and warm mica chandeliers. Furthermore, the Northwoods forest-themed design utilized a color palette of midnight forest blues, amber hues and warm wood tones inspired by Northwest Minnesota. These features combine to deliver a rustic, lodge-style look and feel while providing an exciting, warm and welcoming environment for customers.

The Malt Shop’s entry.
The Malt Shop’s entry.
The Malt Shop Transformed
When asked which new design feature is considered to be the most unique, Jordan responds that it is—without a doubt—the Malt Shop. He continues, “The Malt Shop really separated itself as an amazing venue and the transformation that happened was absolutely remarkable.” In the older Malt Shop, the long, narrow shape of the space encouraged congestion near the point of sale counter, and the large seating areas near the back were completely underutilized. I-5 Design aimed to create a unique and welcoming space that would bring customers further back into the restaurant, thus helping eliminate congestion. The entire restaurant was completely transformed from floor to ceiling in just four weeks. In this time, all-new millwork, overhead soffit structures, specialty column build-outs, furniture, themed décor elements and a custom curving ice cream case were added.

And how does it look now? While the rest of the casino has a rustic and natural feel, the Malt Shop was separately themed to resemble a classic diner. New vinyl tile flooring exhibits a cheerful two-color checkerboard pattern, accented with a black border. Streamlined overhead soffits made from lightweight aluminum alloy framing and covered with warm wood veneers and custom brushed metals, maintain the 1950s vibe. It is, however, the retro custom features that make this place feel like a legitimate 1950s diner. Upon entering the restaurant, one definitely notices the custom entry signage, custom casework with integrated LED accent lighting and specialty metal accents, and custom furniture. Our favorite feature? Two “car couches” converted from real ’57 Chevys that help create a lively and entertaining dining venue.

Two car couches converted from ‘57 Chevys.Throughout the renovation period, the marketing department put a great deal of effort into promoting the casino’s upgrade. Just a few weeks after the upgrade was completed, Seven Clans Casino officially showed off their new look, offering patrons a chance to see the progress made in those three months. During this promotion, the casino achieved the largest single-day profits ever recorded. When asked to offer guidance to any casino operators contemplating a renovation, Jordan says, “Working to provide the most stable gaming environment throughout the project and allowing gaming revenues to continue while the project is happening is key in furthering [its] success.” And, by following its own advice, I-5 Design & Manufacture made certain the Seven Clans project was a resounding success.

Key Players
Owner/Operator: Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Interior Designer: I-5 Design & Manufacture
Contractor: I-5 Design & Manufacture