Shooters Grill pulls trigger on larger location

Ryan Hoffman
The Shooters girls stand outside the new location. From back to front are Tori Hooper, Toni Boothe, Dusty Sheets, KeyAnna Koenig and owner Lauren Boebert.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

When the location that formerly housed the Base Camp Cafe in Rifle became available, it did not take the owners of Shooters Grill, Lauren and Jayson Boebert, very long to pull the trigger.

The popular Rifle eatery, which garnered national media attention in 2014 for its gun-carrying waitresses, opened Monday across the street from its former location in the 100 block of east Third Street.

The move nearly doubled its capacity from 55 to 109.

During peak hours, a table was hard to come by at the old location. Additionally, a conference room toward the back of the new building will allow Shooters to continue its monthly concealed-carry training without having to close the restaurant, as it did at its original location.

The “new Shooters,” as a chalkboard outside the restaurant exclaimed, was a labor of love and a lot of work. Jayson spent about four weeks constantly in the building, working many days from around 8 a.m. until 2 or 3 the following morning.

“This man right here,” Lauren said while sitting next to Jayson in one of the custom-made booths, “he put a lot of work into this.”

Much of that work involved stripping away the former interior to uncover underlying materials that, in some cases, could date back more than 100 years.

Jayson removed a portion of drywall directly inside the entrance to expose the original brick wall, a feature that is among his favorites.

The carpet was ripped up to reveal oak floors, and even the furniture has been refurbished for a one-of-a-kind, custom appearance.

So far, response to the interior overhaul has been overwhelmingly positive, including from the health inspector, who did a double-take after walking in Monday morning, Lauren said.

Patrons dining in the restaurant Wednesday morning concurred.

“I like it,” said Joseph Worline, a Battlement Mesa resident, who regularly comes to Shooters for dinner. “The other place was small, you couldn’t get as many people in.”

When Lauren and Jayson first started Shooters, the goal was to create a restaurant that reflected Rifle.

“We really tried to bring out Rifle,” Lauren said.

That concept never wavered as they prepared the new location. The items on the wall reflect the Western style and unflinching support for the Second Amendment for which the restaurant is known.

Similarly, do not expect much variation in the menu, although Lauren excitedly said the menu soon will include rib-eye steaks.

‘Girls with guns’

It is about vision, Lauren said in referencing a Bible verse. Without vision, you wander aimlessly.

Lauren said some people may have mocked them for their deeply held religious convictions. Then she looked around and said “we have done nothing but grow.”

“Glory to God for that vision,” she added.

However, she concedes they did not foresee their “tiny little restaurant exploding” in the national media spotlight. But they’ve loved every second of it, she said, because of the people it has brought in from across the U.S.

That includes Steve Spafford and Sherry Nelson of New Hampshire. The two had breakfast at the new location Wednesday prior to leaving town.

Spafford first heard about Shooters on a national newscast about two years ago, part of the wave of publicity that followed the Post Independent’s original story on the place. Shortly after, the two stopped in Rifle to visit one of Spafford’s friends, and they visited the restaurant for the first time.

On this second trip they ate at the old location one last time Sunday, and stopped in the new location Wednesday.

“I like it very much,” Nelson said of the new location. “There’s much, much more room.”

While that first trip was more of a coincidence than anything, Spafford said he does identify with the restaurant’s Western appeal.

“The idea of waitresses carrying sidearms probably didn’t hurt,” Nelson said.

Spafford did not dispute her point.

“I fit right in,” he said.

Not everyone shares that enthusiasm for firearms.

A Parachute woman, who declined to give her name due to her feelings regarding guns, thought she was entering the former Base Camp Cafe. That was until she noticed the firearms strapped to the side of some of the employees.

“It’s off-putting,” she said. “I’m not pro-gun — at all.”

“I don’t mind it’s here and if other people enjoy it, but it’s not for me,” the woman added.

Lauren recalled a couple who came into the restaurant the other day. The woman said she did not understand why people need “assault weapons,” such as an AR-15. Lauren politely pointed out that the “A” in AR-15 stands for ArmaLite, not assault.

While some people may have their reservations, the concept of “girls with guns” is a big part of the draw for tourists, Lauren said.

Some people get mad when their waitress is not carrying a firearm, Jayson added.

Employees are not required to carry a gun, but those who do want to carry must complete a firearm safety course and demonstrate competency firing their weapon, Lauren said.

While the weapon-carrying waitresses may be part of the initial draw, people often return because of the food, she said.

Worline, the Battlement Mesa resident, describes himself as a “foodie” and agrees with Lauren’s comment about the food.

“They have the best hamburger,” he said.

As for the future of the old location, Lauren said it is a secret. Although, she added it will “tie together” with Shooters. She hopes to have it open in two weeks.

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