Buffalo-based mega-concessionaire Delaware North already plays a major role in the local economy – feeding the eight million tourists who visit Niagara Falls State Park every year at the expense of the handful of restaurants and diners that still exist in downtown Niagara Falls. Recent developments indicate that the global hospitality, casino, resort and fast food giant is poised to assume an even larger role here, so we decided to take a closer look at the business practices and reputation of the vast multinational conglomerate before it further muscles its way into Niagara Falls.
For the past 15 years (since July, 2002) Delaware North has operated Top of the Falls restaurant, Cave of the Winds food service pavilion and several snack booths scattered throughout Niagara Falls State Park, in addition to a gift and souvenir shop, pursuant to a $10.2 million agreement with State Parks scheduled to elapse at the end of 2021.
Delaware North pays the state a paltry $500,000 a year for the right to feed the multitudes who visit the park. No wonder the Jeremy Jacobs family is worth billions.
Recently the Reporter broke the story that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will soon announce that he will gift, through his economic development agency USA Niagara, the long-shuttered landmark Hotel Niagara, which they had previously purchased from Canadian real estate speculator Harry Stinson, to Delaware North. In other news, Cuomo announced during his State of the State speech at the University of Buffalo last month that he wants to build a 100-room “lodge” on Goat Island in the Niagara Falls State Park, rumored to be his consolation prize for Jacobs after the tycoon was given the bum’s rush at Yosemite.
In addition, Delaware North previously had been named a partner in Uniland Corp’s “Wonder Falls” hotel complex at the site of the long-defunct Rainbow Centre Mall.
Delaware North looms ever larger on the local scene, soon to be in a position to export double, or even triple, the wealth out of the community that it presently does. Since many of us may be working for them in the not-too-distant future, we ask the question, what kind of a boss is Delaware North?
A recent December, 2016 study by executive search firm Bristol Associates surveyed casino gaming executives from around the country about their career goals and job satisfaction.
Since Delaware North has no gaming presence here in Western New York other than a “slots parlor” in a former barn at the Hamburg, NY racetrack, it’s often overlooked that it has ongoing concerns elsewhere in the country, including casinos in Illinois, Florida, Arizona, West Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio and the Finger Lakes region of New York, where they operate the gamut of video gaming machines, table games, poker rooms, sports bars and racing simulcast centers. Considering the influence they wield on politicians like Cuomo and Dyster, it’s only a matter of time before they look at their gaming options here in Niagara Falls, if they aren’t already.
Maybe the proposed Niagara Lodge on Goat Island will include gaming.
According to the Bristol Associates report, Delaware North was ranked third from last by 1300+ casino and gaming executives from across North America in terms of the desirability of working there, based on compensation, corporate culture, location and weather/lifestyle. Only 1% of respondents named Delaware North as their “Employer of First Choice,” down from 2% last year.
Also, many of the reviews of Delaware North on the popular job-seeking website Indeed.com were derogatory in their tone and content.
“I was offered a promising and rewarding career… none of which came to fruition… terrible pay.”
“…my wife and I asked for the same days off and we never got those days. We didn’t enjoy how we were treated… Worst company I worked for.”
“Unpredictable and unprofessional, not enough pay for the amount of work and stress. Not a friendly company, management bypass(es) you, ignores you & never speaks to their employees.”
“If your co-workers speak English they are great, if not watch your back.”
“The raises were minimal and a joke! There is also very little room for advancement.”
“We also have a big bug infestation problem and they are not treating it properly.”
“Management was horrible, felt like they didn’t care and felt expendable. Felt used and abused.”
“The most challenging part of my job was actually getting the guests to settle for what they specifically did not want.”
“Save your sanity and DON’T work for this company… The work drama is horrible… It’s a constant game of them playing favorites & hiring their close friends… Everyone has to be a ‘yes man’ & bringing up issues or problems in the Corporation is even worse… There is no work/life balance. On days off you will receive emails and nasty text messages from other managers & the Assistant General Manager… The hiring process is misleading, lies about scheduling, company polices that change daily.”
And last but not least, our favorite: “life is boring at delaware north i hated working for them its either hot or cold too many attitudes people having sex in the freezers.”
Wouldn’t it be great if local politicians, backed by the people of Niagara Falls, rose up and demanded of Albany that Delaware North’s 2021 contract to feed the millions who visit Niagara Falls State Park be allowed to expire. Then the small businesses of Niagara Falls would have a crack at success for a change, with the added benefit of keeping revenues and profits local instead of accruing to a Buffalo billionaire’s fortune, who has built a reputation of treating employees poorly.