From a Ninja sushi restaurant in New York to a Barbie-themed boite in Taipei, there are no shortage of themed restaurants in the world. Shooters, however, a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, might be one of the most unique.
The restaurant, which is owned by a 28-year-old former Miss Junior Colorado, is something of a safe haven for gun enthusiasts. Waitresses all carry pistols with them, as does the café owner, and patrons are encouraged to come bearing arms. A sign on the window tells them: “Please keep all weapons holstered unless need arises. In such case, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.” And, for those new to firearms, the café offers up what it calls the “sidearm sandwich” special, which includes dinner and a concealed-carry class for $75.
The restaurant has created its fair share of buzz. Media and customers have come from around the world to see the firearm-themed restaurant, and patrons drive from neighboring Kansas and Utah, and as far away as Washington state, for the chance to dine with their firearms.
The restaurant is situated in the cultural context over a broader political battle over the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which refers to a right to bear arms. Although carrying firearms openly is legal in Colorado, the state has a fraught and painful history with mass shootings, from the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre to the 2012 shooting in an Aurora movie theater. In 2013, governor John Hickenlooper signed a law requiring expanded background checks on gun buyers and limiting the size of magazines.
Still, pro-gun advocates champion the restaurant. “Guns are part of the fabric of the community,” Police Chief John Dyer told the Los Angeles Times. “I know the waitresses at Shooters have undergone training, and we’ve never had any complaints.” Perry Sweeney, of a nearby town called New Castle, concurred, his .45 slung from his belt. “This place is well within my comfort zone,” he said. “Over the last five or so years a lot of people have climbed onto the ‘bad guns’ bandwagon. I open-carry because our rights are under assault.”
Some local residents say that the culture of the community explains why Shooters may seem like a bigger deal to people outside of the community than in it. “Maybe if someone wandered in from New York City, from Washington, D.C., they might be a little worried,” local doctor Doug Yajiko told CBS News. “But local people, plus the people in western Colorado, are not going to be worried by someone with a handgun.”