In early December of last year, El Capitan Lodge & Casino announced that its general manager Glenn Carns would be retiring after 10 years with the property and its operations manager Terry Rideout would be taking his place. Since then, Rideout is continuing Carns’ legacy by keeping a good thing going.
Like Carns, Rideout has also been with El Capitan for 10 years and plans to stay at the property until he retires. Rideout started out as a slot attendant and guest services supervisor at the casino before being promoted to Executive on Duty in July of 2012. Then in 2018, Rideout became the operations manager for the entire property and worked closely with Carns on all the casino’s events and functions.
Rideout was a truck driver when he originally moved to Hawthorne in 2008 with a plan to work for the Aurora Mine. Right when he settled into Hawthorne, though, his bosses wanted to move him to Battle Mountain. Fortunately, he was able to stay at Aurora and work security before the price of gold dropped and the mine shut down.
“Reno’s two hours away, it’s nice and quiet and reasonably priced to live here,” he says.
So then Rideout got a job at El Capitan, and he had a lot of casino experience. He grew up in Reno and says he worked at pretty much all the casinos doing every job from valet parking to counting change and dealing cards. Even though he had a good grasp on the individual jobs in running a casino, he credits Carns with helping him understand how to keep it functioning as a whole entity.
“I learned so much from Glenn about the operations, the costs, the overhead, the profit/loss statements…how it all worked. When they opened Bourbon Square in Sparks, they sent Glenn there to get it not hemorrhaging money and during that time they brought another manager in to help with El Capitan. I was the MOD [Manager On Duty] at the time,” Rideout says. When that manager left, Carns went back to El Capitan, and they worked together until Carns retired.
While the pandemic changed everything, Rideout helped El Capitan reopen after being shut down for three months. “I rearranged the slot machines, so they were all six feet apart and deep cleaned everything, so we were ready to reopen,” he says. El Capitan’s sister properties then copied Rideout’s protocol for its other Nevada lodging casinos.
“I thought, since I was here, I may as well do something, so we did all of that ahead of when the government released its regulations,” Rideout says. He really stepped into every role during covid, saying that it was necessary to do that to keep the place functional while they were closed.
While that’s undoubtedly a lot of work, when asked how it feels to be the new GM, Rideout smiles, “The buck stops here,” referring to his last move before retirement. He doesn’t really have any big plans for changes, either, since Carns did such a respectable job in keeping El Cap alive and well throughout his tenure.
“I loved the way that Glenn ran the place. I just want to keep it going the way he would. Sometimes in a situation I’ll ask myself, ‘What would Glenn do?’”
The biggest challenge Rideout been faced with in his own 10 years at El Capitan has been covid.
“We have around five percent of our staff out sick right now, but I know that’s happening everywhere,” Rideout says, mentioning that El Capitan’s restaurant would close early that day because of the staff shortage but he noticed that when he recently tried to go to Jack In the Box in Fallon it was closed due to lack of staff, too. Since big events or banquets aren’t really happening, El Capitan’s buffet room has been converted into a covid testing center- free testing currently takes place on the west side of the casino on Tuesdays-Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
While the pandemic has continued to provide challenges for local businesses, Rideout is grateful for Mineral County residents for allowing El Capitan to keep its doors open.
“Our regulars keep us going. The Travelodge drives a little business, but we try to take care of our locals,” he says.
And then, Rideout responds to a radio call that someone hit a $1675 jackpot on the Lightning Link slot machine downstairs, and he rushes off to verify the payout. As the sirens go off in the corner of the casino, I overhear him talking with other staff about who is going to take a picture with the winner.
For more information about El Capitan Lodge & Casino, visit https:// elcapcasino.com/.