Shooters Grill, the gun-themed restaurant where the servers packed heat and which helped propel its hard-line conservative owner into the halls of Congress, served its last Swiss & Wesson burger over the weekend in the small Colorado town named, appropriately enough, Rifle.
News of the restaurant’s closure wasn’t a surprise. Boebert had told reporters in June that the building’s new owners decided not to renew her lease. Records from Garfield County, where Rifle is located, indicate the building that housed Shooters was sold May 26, two days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., where 19 children and two adults were killed.
The closing was on the same day Boebert went on Fox News and said, “When 9/11 happened, we didn’t ban planes, we secured the cockpit.” The new owner, a company named Milkin Enterprises, shares an address with another local business, the Green Cross Recreational Dispensary, which sells a wide line of flowers, edibles, cartridges and other THC and CBD products.
The owners of Milkin Enterprises, Mike Miller and Dan Meskin, have not provided many clues as to why they gave Boebert and Shooters Grill the boot. They have declined interviews. The Washington Post called the Rifle dispensary (and its sister location in Silt, Colo.), looking for the owners. The Post also emailed an account for Meskin found in public records. Neither Miller nor Meskin responded.
But when the news of Shooters Grill’s potential closing emerged, the Daily Beast reported that a “person familiar with the arrangement said the property manager felt he had a ‘moral’ imperative to close the business.” The same story also said Boebert had dismissed the idea that the new owners, one of whom is the son of the previous landlord, were politically motivated to shut down her business. Boebert’s office did not respond to a message requesting comment on the closing.
Whatever the reason, the western restaurant has ridden off into the sunset after a nearly 10-year run.
“We were like a family,” Boebert told Erku with the Post Independent. “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.”
Shooters opened in 2013 in a location across the street from the current one. The grill looked like a saloon straight out of central casting. The floors were hardwood, the walls decorated with rifles, knotty pine wood, a cross, pro-gun signs and American flags, including one that had the Pledge of Allegiance printed on it. A sign was placed in the front window, announcing the restaurant’s position on open carry and positioning itself as a safe place for the MAGA crowd.
“WARNING,” the sign read in all caps, “THIS IS NOT A GUN FREE ZONE.”
A scroll through the restaurant’s Yelp page photos proves that point: Numerous patrons have taken pictures inside the dining room, or outside the grill, their hands hovering over a pistol strapped to their hip, as if ready for a quick draw. The servers, frequently young women in T-shirts and denim shorts, also carried firearms, which probably explains why numerous journalists dubbed Shooters Grill a Hooters parody for Second Amendment die-hards.
Its menu borrowed the language from weapons manufacturers, the National Rifle Association and middle America, often twisting words into food-related puns. The restaurant sold Guac Nine and Swiss & Wesson burgers. It offered a Ruger Reuben. Appetizers were listed under the heading of “Target Practice.” The kids menu was dubbed Lil Slingers. There was a prayer to “Father God” at the bottom of the menu.
The God-and-guns message would carry over into Boebert’s political career when she was elected to Congress in 2020. She has been a staunch advocate for gun ownership, rejecting any calls for bans or controls, even after mass shootings. When she started her first term in the House, Boebert said she would carry her Glock pistol on Capitol grounds and in Washington, even though D.C. gun laws do not recognize concealed-carry licenses from other states.
She created a stir last month at a religious service in Colorado when she said: “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.” Experts called her interpretation of the Constitution false and “dangerous.”
A photo on the business’s Yelp page shows a plaque that was dedicated to the opening of Shooters Grill on May 22, 2013. It features a quote from Proverbs, in script that mixes cursive with all caps: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”
Shooters, however, struggled over the course of its existence. According to one public disclosure statement filed by Boebert, Shooters lost more than $242,000 in 2018. The Daily Beast reported that public disclosures indicated that Shooters had lost “more than $600,000 in total between 2018 and 2020.” The restaurant also had accumulated nearly $20,000 of unpaid unemployment insurance premiums, which Boebert reportedly paid off days before the general election in 2020. Shooters also reportedly sickened dozens of people at a rodeo with its pork sliders.
Despite the hardships and the fact that she easily won her Republican primary in June, Boebert has not given up on Shooters. She told the Post Independent that she and her husband, Jayson, have been praying about the business’s future.
“We would just dramatically scale it back, because, obviously, we’re not in our building,” she told the publication. “It may look like a Shooters coffee shop with pastries and some easy breakfast sandwiches and merchandise.”