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The institution at the center of Rep. Lauren Boebert now seems to face an uncertain future.
Shooters Grill, the gun-themed Hooters parody restaurant that put Rifle, Colorado, on the map and elevated Boebert to local celebrity status, has had some problems with its new owner — a marijuana retailer.
But your landlord isn’t that new. And the story, which has gone through several iterations in the last week, isn’t exactly adding up.
As it stands, the landlord has told Boebert that he will revoke the restaurant’s lease at the end of August and send the Shooters away. The rest is up in the air.
Boebert told The Daily Beast that she and her husband Jayson Boebert were surprised to receive notice last week announcing that their contract would not be renewed. Ownership of the building changed hands last month, she said, and now the gunmen would have to find new digs or close for good.
But the day after the notice arrived, an anti-Boebert political group somehow learned that the schedule was even tighter than that — two weeks, the group said, putting the possible resignation just days before the Republicans went to bed. polls for the day of the primaries.
Her employees still hadn’t heard this, so Boebert went out of her way to quell this rumor, which she characterized to The Daily Beast as disinformation. Still, the truth remained: the restaurant she and her husband founded eight years ago was about to close.
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She didn’t explain exactly why her business was being kicked out. A person familiar with the deal said the property manager felt he had a “moral” imperative to close the deal and planned to lease the space to another restaurant.
Boebert told The Daily Beast at one point that she and her husband were “at peace” with the end of their run and had no plans to fight the order. But as the plot thickened politically, it gained some time.
Now she says she is considering two contradictory options: the original closing plan or buying the building directly from the new owners. She won’t say which one she and her husband are choosing until after the primaries.
Shooters was instrumental in Boebert’s rocket rise to federal office, but it was not a financial success. The restaurant had a string of six-figure annual losses leading up to Boebert’s 2020 election and struggled to stay above water even after she rose to fame as the darling of MAGA. She said it took a lot of work balancing the stress and drama of running a restaurant with her legislative duties 2,800 kilometers away, and she often found herself turning to her mother to compensate. That struggle is partially why she at first saw the closure as a blessing.
Jayson Boebert also seems to be busy. Between 2019 and 2020, while Shooters was losing money, he made nearly $1 million as a shift worker for oil and gas company Terra Energy — although Lauren Boebert appears to have reported the wrong source of that revenue in her federal financial disclosures. .
Today, however, the Shooters website is offline. The last time it appears active in an archive search was in December 2021.
A purchase would seem unusual — and not just because the Boeberts apparently decided less than a week ago that they would shut down the business — but also because the new owners bought the building less than a month ago. If they did decide to sell, it would be an almost instantaneous change—morally and financially.
But they’re not exactly new owners. In fact, it’s the same family.
The company that took over the Shooters building, Milkin Enterprises, was formed days before the purchase, according to Colorado business records. And the two men in the Milkin Enterprises incorporation documents — Mike Miller and Dan Meskin — run a cannabis dispensary, Rifle Remedies, which until 2019 shared an address with Shooters, according to state records.
Boebert told The Daily Beast that Shooters had cut his previous rent checks to Dan Meskin’s father – Mike Meskin, who owns the building through Meskin Enterprises. She did not comment on Dan, who was named in a local Independent post 2016 history as building property manager.
It is not clear on what morals the new owners are acting. County records indicate that the transfer of father and son deed took place on May 26, two days after the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas. That same day, Boebert noted that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “we don’t ban airplanes.”
A few days after Boebert captured the national political spotlight for the first time for confronting Beto O’Rourke over gun control in Aurora, Colorado – the site of a movie massacre – Rifle Remedies changed its address from the Shooters building, according to records. state commercials.
Neither Dan nor Mike Meskin appear to have made political contributions. While Dan Meskin’s wife isn’t a big donor — about $225 in total lifetime contributions — she made some small gifts for Democrats trying to defeat Boebert in 2020 and last year. The other two Meskins do not appear to have made any political donations.
It’s unclear why Boebert appears to be unfamiliar with the “new” owners, as she suggested in phone calls. It’s also unclear why these owners would be unfamiliar with Boebert, who claimed to have the “first option to buy” the building – an option that Mike Meskin and possibly his son Dan would have given her personally.
Boebert, who has repeatedly ruled out the possibility of a political motive behind the expulsion, did not say whether he was offered that option to purchase. But she told The Daily Beast that Milkin Enterprises now appeared open to a sale.
“He said, ‘If you’re still interested in buying, I’m interested in selling,’” she told The Daily Beast.
But Shooters — whose gun-toting waitresses drew international attention as a roadside novelty long before Boebert entered the political arena — never lived off the hog.
The restaurant lost more than $600,000 in total between 2018 and 2020, according to Boebert’s financial disclosures, and appears to have struggled with annual tax obligations, incurring a series of liens totaling nearly $20,000, the Denver Post reported. .
A series of articles in 2014 boosted the profile of the innovative restaurant, turning it into something of a “tourist trap,” as a former employee described to The Daily Beast. Shooters marketed itself as a positive Second Amendment business, where waitresses carry loaded firearms on their hips and serve menu items like a “Swiss and Wesson” sandwich.
“Customers love being able to come here and express their rights,” Boebert said in an interview with the CBC in 2014. “We called it ‘Shooters’ and started throwing guns and Jesus all over the place.”
Some of these waitresses, however, were too young to carry — and a rare few chose not to, a former employee told The Daily Beast. One appears to be on probation for a year she worked at the restaurant, and would have been banned from carrying a firearm.
This former employee said that, unlike some other servers, she didn’t carry a loaded gun at work and soon stopped loading altogether.
“I was tired of putting maple syrup in my Glock, hitting my gun in the corner of the bar,” she explained.
The Boeberts never seemed able to maintain tight control, the employee said, though they certainly struggled, with Lauren Boebert sometimes even taking shifts as a cook.
And it was Shooters’ cuisine — though not Boebert’s — that caught the press in 2017, when the restaurant’s pork sliders caused massive diarrhea in Rifle Rodeo.
“I didn’t eat that day because I saw who was cooking and I knew better,” a former employee told The Daily Beast.
“There were Mexicans in the kitchen, and if they were cooking, I would eat. But not this cook,” she said, adding that the cook responsible for the food poisoning often “scratched his balls” at work and routinely “threw food on the floor.”
(The Daily Beast could not independently substantiate these claims.)
Boebert’s elevation to a household name, along with his aggressive advertising operation, appear to have helped propel the business forward over the past two years. While not exactly swimming in cash, Shooters is now at least above water.
Asked about those finances, the first-term congresswoman told The Daily Beast that the grill is “not in the red” and paid her rent in June.
“Does a restaurant always make a profit?” Boebert joked. “No, we’re doing fine. We’re not in the red, we’re – we’re in the black, so it’s a lot better than last year.”
Perhaps conveniently, though, the Boeberts delayed the family’s decision until after the primaries.
“I talked to my husband and we decided that after the election we were going to get together and talk about maybe buying the building,” she said.
“That’s in six days,” he added.
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