The following appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin and was written by Ben Williams.
COLLINSVILLE-The Windmill at the Quality Inn Dutch Inn opened its doors Saturday, bringing off-track betting back to Henry County.
Roy Chambers, general manager of The Windmill, said that Saturday was a soft opening for the establishment and that a grand opening will take place later this month, possibly around St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.
The Windmill is located within the Dutch Inn where The Flying Dutchman bar was formerly located. Those familiar with the Flying Dutchman shouldn’t expect that same experience when they come to The Windmill, Chambers said; after massive renovations, The Windmill is – if you’ll pardon the expression – a horse of a different color.
“We have all new fixtures and all new equipment,” Chambers said. “We’re running 45 televisions, which was a big conversion. 22 of the televisions will be running races all day long. We’ll be doing an array of sports channels on the other televisions.”
The Windmill will feature a family-friendly sports bar atmosphere, Chambers said, as opposed to the more adult atmosphere of the former Flying Dutchman.
The sports bar also features a new menu, Chambers said, which staff spent weeks designing in an effort to create dishes that both fit the off-track betting/sports bar theme and are also unique from other restaurant offerings in the area.
One of the main draws, of course, is off-track betting: State-sanctioned satellite wagering on horse racing. The satellite wagering is operated by the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) operating as “Virginia Bets.”
If someone is interested in wagering on a race but doesn’t have the first idea where to get started, Chambers said not to be intimidated. Staff at The Windmill will be happy to offer a helping hand.
“The Virginia Bets folks are going to be here,” Chambers said. “We have people working at the teller stations. The manager will be helping people. If you want to learn how (to wager), we’re going to teach you. Don’t be put off; just come in, and we’ll have somebody that will help you in whatever direction you want to go.”
“If you don’t want to bet, we’re still happy to have you,” Chambers continued. “We want you to come in and enjoy a beverage and our new menu and watch basketball, football, baseball, boxing … we’re going to have a wide selection of sports on TV as well.”
Chambers estimated that the renovations necessary to create The Windmill cost a little more than $400,000.
“It’s a big difference,” he said. “A lot brighter, a lot fresher. It’s a whole different atmosphere from what the community had been used to.”
Already, Chambers said, The Windmill has received a strong response. He estimated that about 15 people called the Dutch Inn per day over the last two months asking when The Windmill would open.
“I think that’s also going to help us as well with our occupancy for the hotel rooms,” he said. “We’ve gotten calls from as far away as Charlotte, N.C. and Fredericksburg.”
The creation of The Windmill also added about 30 jobs in Henry County, Chambers said, between additional Dutch Inn staff and Virginia Bets staff.
“This is a fresh new look, a whole new way of doing things and a great benefit to Henry County,” he said.