For years, the Downtown Rifle restaurant scene was furnished with one of the only places in the United States where you could order a cheeseburger from a waiter carrying a 9mm gun on his hip. The establishment – Shooters Grill – was designed by US Representative Lauren Boebert.
On Sunday, the Republican from Silt officially closed the doors of her restaurant.
“We were like family,” she said. “I would say Shooters, for any employee, was his life. We lived and breathed it every day. They were part of this culture and this brand that we created in Rifle, and there was a lot of pride with that.
In June, Boebert was notified by new owner Milken Enterprises that her lease was not going to be renewed.
Boebert said the letter came as a shock. She quickly called the landlord, but “there wasn’t really any wiggle room or compromise unless we bought the building ourselves.”
“Within two hours I was contacted by reporters asking if it was true and if we were being kicked out,” she said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re not expelled. The lease is not renewed – that’s a big difference.
The real question is, what’s next for Boebert in the restaurant industry? Will it disappear into a myth like the Wild West or are there plans to move?
Boebert said she didn’t want to make any promises, but she and her husband, Jayson, pray and plan to continue the Shooters brand, culture, name and presence on Rifle’s Third Street.
“We would scale it down significantly, because obviously we’re not in our building,” she said. “It may look like a Shooters cafe with pastries and sandwiches and easy breakfast wares.”
The shooters themselves came to fruition after Boebert spent time tending to female inmates at Garfield County Jail. She said she wanted to help these women and “exchange their shame for glory”.
Boebert will later hire some of these women after they are released, she said.
The gun theme came when someone was allegedly beaten to death in front of Shooters and Boebert employees started asking if they could open the carry. It later turned out that the apparently beaten-to-death man had in fact died of a methamphetamine overdose.
The shooters averaged about 100 tables a day and employed more than 75 people since opening in May 2013, Boebert said. Servers had their own choice of what weapons they carried.
“Most wear semi-automatics because that’s what we trained with,” Boebert said.
When more people started coming to Shooters, Boebert said they would shop for t-shirts and then explore other downtown shops or local attractions, like Rifle Falls State Park. .
Now she hopes to bring something back on a much smaller scale, she said.
“It has been an incredible journey. I regret nothing. It’s always sad to close a chapter. But that’s where we are.