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Gaming Enterprise buys Flagstaff restaurant


The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise is continuing to diversify its holdings, announcing this week  the purchase of a restaurant north of Flagstaff.

The enterprise paid $5.2 million to purchase a 14-acre parcel of land known as The Horseman Lodge, which consists of property and a steakhouse that has been in business since 1975.

Brian Parrish, interim CEO of the company, said the enterprise is currently serving as landlord for the company operating the restaurant.

“We entered into a lease-back agreement with the former owners and management team that maintains existing operations while keeping the current employees on staff,” he said.

According to Coconino County records, the enterprise purchased three different properties: the lodge for $1.9 million, Flying Heart Stables for $1.7 million and land from the David Bellar Trust for $1.6 million.

Parrish said the purchase came about after officials for the enterprise saw a real estate listing for the property. After that, the purchase occurred fairly quickly.

All of this is part of a strategy the enterprise has been pursuing for the past couple of years. While there still are a number of proposals under consideration for building more casinos in New Mexico and Arizona, the enterprise has been concentrating on developing properties that tie in with existing casinos.

For example, the enterprise is in the final stages of its Navajo Blue Travel Center at its Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Resort east of Flagstaff. This center will provide amenities for truckers and travelers along Interstate 40.

The enterprise is also preparing to launch several new product lines promoting Navajo-made goods, such as Navajo soda, beef and sausage, and fudge.

“We will be offering a new line of specialty craft sodas with all natural ingredients, six different flavors of Navajo beef jerky, breakfast sausage and blue corn tamales, along with fresh-made Navajo fudge and candy,” a recent news release stated.

“The quality of these new products is superior and it creates another way for us to diversify and share Navajo culture with our guests,” said Parrish.

The purchase of the restaurant fits in with its strategy of developing businesses that have the ability to increase profits and encourage more visitation to existing casinos.

Parrish said the plans are to put a kiosk in the restaurant to encourage both locals and foreign visitors to the restaurant to visit scenic sites on the reservation as well as Twin Arrows.

The enterprise is looking at the other projects to increase its profits but also to create jobs that could be filled by Navajos.

Parrish said this is especially true for the western portion of the reservation where the closing of the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine will affect hundreds of Navajo workers in the near future.

While the enterprise does not release financial figures, the tribal entity continues to find ways to increase its revenue. Receiving more than $200 million and maybe as much as $250 million in revenue annually, the enterprise continues to be one of the biggest employers of Navajos on the reservation.

Total revenue has been rising annually and while the enterprise is still struggling to pay down some $220 million loaned to it by the tribe to build Twin Arrows, it continues to pay interest on the debt, provide the tribe with profit payments and come up with the funds to create new businesses.

About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.


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