Shooters Grill no more

The front of Shooters Grill in July 2022.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

For years, Downtown Rifle’s restaurant scene was furnished with one of the only places in the U.S. you could order a cheeseburger from a server packing a 9mm pistol on her hip. The establishment — Shooters Grill — was the brainchild of now-U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

On Sunday, the Silt Republican officially closed the doors to her restaurant.

“We were like a family,” she said. “I would say Shooters, for any employee, was their life. We lived and breathed it every single day. They were a part of this culture and brand that we created in Rifle, and there was a lot of pride with that.”

In June, Boebert was told by new landlord Meskin Enterprises, LLC that her lease wasn’t going to be renewed.

Boebert said the letter came as a shock. She soon called the landlord but “there wasn’t really much wiggle room or anywhere to compromise unless we bought the building ourselves.”

“Within the next two hours, I had reporters reaching out to me asking me if this was true and if we were being evicted,” she said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re not being evicted. The lease is not being renewed — that’s a big difference.’”

The real question is, what’s next for Boebert in the restaurant industry? Will it fade away into myth like the Old West or are there plans in the works to relocate?

Boebert said she doesn’t want to make any promises, but she and her husband, Jayson, are praying and planning to continue the Shooters brand, culture, name and presence on Rifle’s Third Street.

“We would just dramatically scale it back, because, obviously, we’re not in our building,” she said. “It may look like a Shooters coffee shop with pastries and some easy breakfast sandwiches and merchandise.”

Shooters itself originally came to fruition after Boebert spent time ministering to female inmates at Garfield County Jail. She said she wanted to give these women help and “trade their shame for glory.”

Boebert would later hire some of these women after they were released, she said.

The gun-theme came when someone was allegedly beaten to death in front of Shooters and Boebert’s employees started asking if they could open carry. It later turned out the man ostensibly beaten to death in fact died of methamphetamine overdose.

Shooters would go on to serve an average of about 100 tables a day and employed over 75 people since opening in May 2013, Boebert said. Servers had their own choice as to what guns they carried.

“Most carry semi automatics, because that’s what we practiced with,” Boebert said.

When a growing number of people started coming to Shooters, Boebert said they’d buy T-shirts then explore other downtown shops or local attractions, like Rifle Falls State Park.

Now, she’s hoping to bring back something at a much smaller scale, she said.

“It’s been an amazing journey. I don’t regret anything. It’s always sad to close a chapter. But this is where we’re at.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.