We have had the opportunity to visit Lutes Casino several times during our time in Yuma this year. We were actually invited to go for lunch at Lutes Casino our first year in Yuma (2013) but we passed it up because we have never found casino restaurants to be anything great. After hearing about Lutes over the past few years we finally decided we needed to accept an invite and go … and we were very surprised!
First off we were surprised to find out that Lutes Casino is in fact not a casino but just a great place to eat a meal.
The décor is interesting junk and it is everywhere. The 12-foot-high walls are plastered with posters, paintings, murals and decals of every description. As your eye travels it always comes to rest on some unique piece of memorabilia.
The first time we entered the casino the thought crossed out mind that it was a rough place, but then you look at the clientele and you realize they all look like Snowbirders having a good time. On our visit a few days ago the server introduced a new server to a man cleaning a table near us as “Bob, a part of the family”. After a little research I found out that Bobby Lutes owns the Casino in partnership with his brother Billy. I also read that Bobby contends there’s hardly ever any trouble, except for an occasional drunk who wanders in. “In the old days, there were some vicious fights with pool cues, but not anymore.”
In 1901 the building was constructed the Molina Investment Company. The ground floor was housed by the New York Store, selling groceries and general sundries and the upstairs held the Central Hotel. Back in those days the main street of Yuma was a dirt road in the horse-and-buggy days and it was lined with thriving businesses. Historians are not sure of the building’s history from the 1912 to 1920, when W.E. “Pop” McCaw opened the Casino Billiard Parlor. Sometime around 1945, McCaw sold out to a Somerton man named Walter Weatherford who after a year or so sold the Casino to Clark “Cocky” Powers.
I read that according to Bobby Lutes, Cocky was a gambler and borrowed $10,000 from Bobby’s father to buy the casino. Bobby claims that Powers wasn’t able to pay off the $10,000 and gave the Casino to his father, R.H. Lutes a Yuma Businessman and former Justice of the Peace. Bobby says it was a bad deal for his father but he had no choice. The elder Lutes operated the Casino, adding dominos and hamburgers to billiards and beer, making it the only domino parlor in the state.
Bobby Lutes took over the casino around 1959 and after five years bought the neighbouring store, Toggery, from the late State Senator Harold Giss and the Casino doubled in size.
In the 1960’s Bobby began collecting wall stuff and people visiting would also bring in stuff to hang. Today Lutes Casino’s business is booming and it has become the place to go. Their famous dish the Special or Especial, which is a combination cheeseburger and hotdog covered with hot sauce, has become hubby’s favorite!
I read that Politicians, dignitaries, celebrities, and artists have paid visits to the Casino. The establishment had been used for birthday parties, re-unions, and even a wedding reception, but the only gambling that goes on now is the sale of state lottery tickets, and I have purchased my share of tickets for the big Power Ball draw at Lutes! There is even a window in the men’s room door that Bobby Lutes says is there so that nobody can sneak up and shoot you!
This is one Casino that is worth the visit 🙂
Until next time …