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Providing friendly customer service for more than 59 years now comes with an award. Lutes Casino owner Bob Lutes was recognized at the Governor's Conference on Tourism, held July 22-24, in Tucson. Lutes was awarded the Tourism Spirit of Service, given by the Arizona Office of Tourism, at the conference's awards banquet on July 23rd. The Tourism Spirit of Service award is a highly coveted statewide award.
"We nominated Bob because he is a wonderful ambassador for Yuma," said Visit Yuma Executive Director, Linda Morgan. "For all these decades, he is the face of tourism to thousands and thousands, even generations, of visitors coming to Yuma," she added. "He is well-deserving of this honor and we're all glad to see his family share this moment with him."
Lutes, who is now 83 years old, has run Lutes Casino with his brother, Bill, since 1959, when he took over managing it from his father. Lutes Casino traces its history to horse and buggy days, getting its start as The New York Store in 1901. In about 1946 the building was acquired by R. H. Lutes, Bob Lutes' father, in payment of a gambling debt from the previous owner who could pay up with nothing else.
What has evolved into an iconic Southwest Arizona attraction owes a lot to exceptional customer service and treating visitors just like locals and family members. The Lutes family and Casino staff are known for treating customers like long-lost friends. When Bob, who has retired but still comes in daily to chat with patrons, he makes sure they are being helped, gives history lessons to those interested, and shares vintage jokes. He cannot pass a discarded piece of paper on the floor without picking it up to dispose of it properly. The one-of-a-kind interior decorating, which Bob has called "interesting junk" hanging from the walls and ceiling has earned this landmark national attention in publications such as Sunset Magazine and Arizona Highways.
Having survived many eras, from Yuma's earliest days, up to the present when Yelp reviews and DoorDash orders mean you can get the "Especial" delivered to your home or office, Lutes Casino continues to innovate and thrive because of consistently excellent customer service.
Lutes Casino is located at 221 S. Main Street, in Yuma. Open for both lunch and dinner, Lutes Casino also hosts special events like its summer jazz series, every other Friday night throughout the summer.
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