Jonathan Raineau Craft Talk

Weekly Meeting December 11, 2019

Pictured above are Avery Yudien, Program Chairman and Jonathan Raineau, President of Sheraton Hotel and Casino.

My story begins with my grandparents. My mother’s parents were from Hungary and immigrated to Mississippi where she was born and raised. My grandfather was a commercial fisherman and passed away before I was born. My grandmother raised two children but suffered from a bad case of Alzheimer’s at the age of 60 and passed away10 years later. I still have a cousin from my mother’s side of the family, but no other relatives.

I lived with my mom after my parents divorced. She had a horse farm in Connecticut, and as much as I hated all the work and responsibilities it gave, I had a lot of fun growing up there. My mother’s love for horses is what ultimately brought my parents together.

My father’s parents came from Vendome, France. My grandfather grew up on a horse farm as well, where he made a name for himself by training and driving buggy horses, trotters specifically. Racing horses allowed him to visit other countries and to develop relationships abroad. My paternal grandmother oversaw the household and raised three children. Before they got married, my grandmother was one of the first flight attendants for Air France.

Growing up in the horse trade industry, my grandfather found an opportunity with horse meat distribution. In those days, it was a common practice to unload undesirable horses to the slaughterhouse. It was also common that horse meat was sold for human consumption. He saw an opportunity at this time in history because the price of beef was very high.  Horses were being replaced by cars and tractors and much of modern-day Europe, Russia and Asia lived off horse meat. In turn, my grandfather became one of the largest horse meat distributors in the world.

His success opened the doors to the casino business. In 1975, he purchased his first casino in Lyon, France. Today the Raineau Group has 17 casinos, 5 hotels and over 50 residential and commercial properties that make up our real estate portfolio.

My father was born in Paris, France and immigrated to the USA at the age of 22 to expand the family business of horse meat distribution. In the late ‘90s he moved to Argentina to expand the casino business.

I was born and raised in a small town called Plainfield, Connecticut. I lived there until I went to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. In college, I studied Hotel and Restaurant Management, but I quickly learned how to deal Roulette at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

After graduation I moved to Temecula, California to work at Pechanga Casino. After two years there I moved to Paris to begin working with the family business.

The following year, I was off to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to fill the position of casino manager, at the ripe age of 25. I didn’t speak the language, the casino was losing money, and my instructions were – “there is zero budget and you cannot hire or fire anyone.” It was a great experience, and I had an amazing time living there. The language barrier was the most challenging. Here is a funny story from his stint in Egypt at the Sinai Grand Casino:

At the entrance of the casino, the walkway goes in between the fountains. However, when it’s windy, the fountains spray the walkway. I went looking for a maintenance guy to fix the problem. A middle manager, better known as the “pit boss,” came with us to translate for me. We spent a few minutes in front of the casino while observing the guests getting sprayed by the fountains and discussed a solution.

The pit boss explained to the maintenance guy. – High wind = Short Fountains, Low wind = High Fountains. I thought the message was clear, it looked like everyone was on the same page, so we parted ways. The next day, one of the “better” English speaking managers approaches me with a question regarding my instructions for the fountains. “Is it true you asked for the fountains to go down when the casino Wins, and up when the casino Loses?” She confused “win” with “wind.”

I stayed in Egypt for five years.

In 2010, I moved to Costa Rica. I was heading up the construction of a new hotel and casino project that opened as the Sheraton Hotel and Grand Casino Escazú in San Jose, Costa Rica.

My wife and I moved to Boca Raton in 2016 from Costa Rica. We have two sons, one six-year-old and the other seven weeks old. I am very blessed to have a large supportive family, healthy children and a beautiful, wonderful wife.

I am immensely grateful to my parents and grandparents for all the sacrifices made throughout and for the family values they passed down.