RIFLE — You can get a Shooters T-shirt now, but you should come early if you want to be sure to get a burger. You’re still welcome to bring your gun.
For Lauren Boebert, owner of the now-famous Shooters Grill, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of media interviews, TV crews and phone calls from across the country. A stream of customers has come in to see what all the fuss is about, at times forcing Boebert to close early because she’s out of food.
Since the Post Independent’s story June 27 about the restaurant, everyone wants to know about the girls with the loaded guns serving food in a place called Shooters in a town named Rifle. Media including CNN, ABC, CBS, USA Today and the Washington Post have been in touch. Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel wondered, “How much do you tip an armed waitress? It’s 300 percent, right?”
The Food Network called to ask Boebert if she would be interested in doing a reality show.
“I don’t think so,” she told the PI, shaking her head.
While she did not seek the publicity and has consistently maintained that the practice is a “way of life,” not a gimmick, she has seized the opportunity provided by fame. She ordered Shooters Grill T-shirts, launched a website at shootersgrillofrifle.com and gotten more than 5,000 new fans on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
A SUDDEN CHANGE
Two weeks ago, Shooters was a quiet, locally known restaurant that encouraged its customers to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms by allowing them to pack heat in the restaurant — just as the employees do. It stood in contrast to businesses across the country, including Target, Starbucks and Costco, that have asked people not to bring weapons in their stores.
Boebert says she has openly carried her own gun since the restaurant opened a little more than a year ago, and when her waitresses asked if they could do the same, she agreed.
“It’s a right — the right to bear arms,” Boebert said. “But that’s not what we’re about. We won 11 [Post Independent] Locals’ Choice awards because of our outstanding food and staff. We just happen to carry firearms.”
And it just happened to strike a chord with gun supporters all over the country.
“I don’t think I’ve really grasped how big this whole story has gotten,” Boebert said. “It’s been exciting and it’s overwhelming and exhausting. I’ve been praying for multiplication, but this has more than doubled our business.”
In fact, the restaurant ran out of food last Wednesday and Sunday, and had to shut down for the afternoon, despite several deliveries in less than a week.
“We’ve had seven deliveries in five days,” Boebert said. “We sold more than 300 half-pound burgers in just two days.”
‘MY MOM IS FAMOUS’
Boebert’s days have been filled with one media interview after another and by Tuesday afternoon she was tired, but faced her latest interview with ABC’s “Nightline,” which questioned whether she was worried that something would happen with people carrying firearms in her restaurant.
“I’m more worried about the cooks getting burned in the kitchen,” Boebert told ABC reporter Clayton Sandell. “I have fire extinguishers, but I don’t expect to have a fire.”
Her fame extends to her home.
“We were at church and my 6-year-old, Brody, was throwing sand and one of the adults told him to stop it. And he said, ‘You can’t tell me what to do — my mom is famous!’” Boebert said with a laugh.
Her husband, Jayson, has been working out of town for most of the media onslaught and just returned Wednesday afternoon.
“Glad I wasn’t there,” he joked.
Reactions by the public have been both positive and negative — some people chastising Boebert for encouraging people to carry guns in a public place and saying they would not bring their children into such an establishment, and others praising her for sticking up for her Second Amendment rights and her strong religious beliefs.
Fans from across the U.S.
One couple from Illinois sent Boebert a letter that included a $25 check to show their support because they couldn’t visit. Boebert used the money to buy a customer’s meal.
“I didn’t want to take the money and I was just attracted to the table and the man teared up when I told him,” Boebert said.
One man, a Marine from California, purchased a Kimber .45 handgun for waitress Carsyn Copeland, who wanted one, but didn’t yet have one.
“You ladies have ignited a fire in our country,” James Rich from New Mexico wrote on Shooters’ Facebook page. “Everything always seems so grim and you have become the spark that has awakened the American spirit around responsible ownership and the 2nd Amendment.”
“People are coming in from all over,” Boebert said. “One couple stopped in from Kansas, someone else came in from Colorado Springs for breakfast and a couple came in from Utah for lunch. America is showing great generosity and a great love for what we stand for.”
She is considering suggestions that the restaurant should franchise.
“Who knows?” she shrugged. “Maybe we will. Some people are demanding it.”
But for now, Boebert is enjoying the publicity and especially the chance to meet so many new customers.
“We’re just small-town folks serving small-town folks, and America stopped in for a visit,” she said.
“One couple stopped in from Kansas, someone else came in from Colorado Springs for breakfast and a couple came in from Utah for lunch. America is showing great generosity and a great love for what we stand for.”
Owner of Shooters Grill