In these tough economic times, many people are opting to stay home instead of a night out for dinner and fun. At Players & Spectators, 12828 E. Sprague Ave., business is slower than usual. A tough economic year and the closure of the business’s casino haven’t helped.
But newly minted operations manager Brad Cairnes, 49, is putting some magic into his diners’ experience to help pull more business out of his hat.
“I’m the best magician on East Sprague,” Cairnes joked.
A self-taught magician who has performed all over the country, Cairnes is performing table-side for many diners at the restaurant. If the kitchen is backed up, he might perform sleight-of-hand tricks to keep the customers entertained.
Before a small group a couple of weeks ago, Cairnes started with a cup-and-coin trick. First the coin is in his hand, then it’s under the cup. He checks for extra magic in his pocket and announces he had to put the coin in his pocket since there is an orange under the cup. He lifts the cup and sure enough, there is an orange. Now, where did that come from?
Cairnes also performed some card tricks, asking a member of the audience to sign their name on the face of one card. He performed a couple of tricks and at the end, sliced up that orange to reveal the signed card inside, soaked in juice and covered with pulp.
“People still want to laugh,” Cairnes said. “They still want to have fun.”
He said that his impromptu performances at Players & Spectators can make the audience forget their troubles for 10 or 15 minutes.
It’s not the first time he’s performed at the restaurant. Years ago, he performed a whole magic act on the dining area stage area – three shows a night Wednesdays through Saturdays.
After a few years of living in various places throughout the country, he was asked by owner Jack Duncan to come back and work for him.
“Jack has believed in me since we first met,” Cairnes said.
Duncan has leased out the business in past years, but took over full-time ownership at the beginning of the year. In August, the casino closed and Duncan said there were too many regulations and taxes to keep it going. The restaurant and bowling alley remain open and Duncan hopes that one day he can reopen the card tables.
Cairnes said he has been the operations manager for about three weeks and adds that his focus will be taking care of the guests at the bowling alley and restaurant. He’s also banquet coordinator.
He believes that for the sake of the employees and the community it is very important for Players & Spectators to succeed.
“I want to leave it a better place when I’m done,” he said.