Woodland's Oak Tree restaurant and casino abruptly closes

2012-12-25T20:45:00Z 2013-05-31T15:59:14Z Woodland's Oak Tree restaurant and casino abruptly closesBy Erik Hidle / The Columbian Longview Daily News
December 25, 2012 8:45 pm  • 

WOODLAND — The Oak Tree restaurant and casino closed its doors over the weekend, leaving workers and investors wondering if they will see money due to them on Christmas Eve.

Just after noon on Monday, a few employees tried to open the doors of the business to find them locked. They inquired with Chris Poma, who sat in his pickup truck in the parking lot, asking if he knew where they could collect their paychecks.

Poma shook his head and told them, "I don't know."

Poma is a minority investor in the casino. He says he moved to Woodland from San Diego last December and put $104,000 into the operation for a 2 percent stake in the cardroom, restaurant and bar.

Just a year later he has no idea what exactly is going on with his investment.

"No idea at all what is happening," Poma said. "We heard (the three main investors) were meeting with another group to sell it."

A banner on the building states the casino is "closed for remodeling; under new ownership; open soon." Another note on the front door, scrawled in green marker states simply "closed until further notice."

Earlier this month, a casino spokesman noted the casino had been struggling.

General Manager Chuck McCormick said the casino generated less than a third of its expected business in its the first year, and that things did not appear to be looking up. The city of Woodland expected the casino to bring in $200,000 in tax revenues. Through November, the casino had added just $63,342 to the city coffers.

Attempts to contact McCormick, also one of the nine investors in the cardroom, were unsuccessful on Monday.

The casino had been modifying its business strategy in recent weeks. According to Poma, most of the games in the casino were going to shut down, but the bar and restaurant was to remain intact.

But on Tuesday, he said, he received a contract to sign which released him from his lease obligation on the building. Other than that, he's heard nothing. And he doesn't know if he'll get the money he's invested back.

"But how do you think the employees felt," Poma said, pointing out it was Christmas Eve.

Some went to Facebook to post on the company's page. Many claiming to be employees posted outrage over the casino shuttering without paying its employees. They too noted the precarious timing with Christmas Day approaching.

©2012 The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.). Visit The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) at www.columbian.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Copyright 2015 Longview Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. buddy boy
    Report Abuse
    buddy boy - December 26, 2012 8:06 am
    Not a good place for a casino really.
  2. blmkr
    Report Abuse
    blmkr - December 27, 2012 5:12 pm
    My heart goes out to the workers and their families who are not working and have not been paid.

    When this establishment morphed into a casino I informed my city councilman that it would only be a matter of time until they'd be looking for some corporate welfare. I surprised it has come so soon.
  3. kaervek
    Report Abuse
    kaervek - December 27, 2012 10:19 pm
    I recall hearing about an on-coming or off-going Woodland City Council member being in cahoots with this sham, and something about his or her election/departure being closely tied to the shady goings on with the newly-renovated casino.

    Let's go, investigative journalists...
  4. chrisc
    Report Abuse
    chrisc - December 30, 2012 9:47 am
    It,s a real shame for the workers to lose out on their pay, It was a beautiful and a wonderful place to stop and eat at and I was sad to see it be sold for a casino type establishment . I hope the people that are owners at this time are located and taken to court.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick