17 August, 2015
People from around the world visit Rifle, a small town in the American state of Colorado. Many of the visitors stop at a restaurant called Shooter's Grill.
They go there for the food and for the waitresses. These women openly carry loaded guns when they bring customers their meals. Customers are also welcome to bring loaded firearms into the eatery.
VOA recently visited Shooter's Grill. We heard a mix of opinions about this most unusual business.
It is late morning on a Monday. Yet at this hour, people are already lining up to eat at Shooter's Grill. Where else can you find a sign saying "Guns are Welcome on Premises"?
Georgina Booth is a waitress at Shooter's Grill. She strongly supports the restaurant's open-carry policy.
"I feel like it's not a problem at all. I mean, it's holstered all the time, and hopefully the need never arises to have to take it out."
Lauren Boebert owns Shooter's Grill. She says her restaurant stands for three ideas:
"God, guns and great food."
She and her husband Jayson opened the eatery in 2013. They named it Shooter's Grill because it is in Rifle -- a town named for a gun. Ms. Boebert was asked why guns are permitted in her restaurant.
"One reason why I began to carry (weapons) was there was an altercation in the alley where a man was beat(en) to death. And it kind of alarmed me, and I wanted a way to protect myself, and to protect my employees, and to protect my customers."
Rifle is on the Colorado River. Many people in the town go hunting, and spend a lot of time outdoors. Ms. Boebert says her business's gun policy is right because of the tradition and respect for firearms in this part of the United States. She says that if two people each have a gun they have something to talk about. And she says talking about guns lets her learn more about her customers as people.
Chris Hauskins has come to eat at Shooter's Grill. She says she likes the restaurant's policy. But she says she didn't realize people could carry weapons there until she saw news reports about it.
"Well, oddly enough, I probably didn't even notice until it became a story. And then I noticed."
D.K. Brakel is visiting Shooter's Grill for the first time. He likes having loaded weapons around him.
"I feel as safe as can be. This is the safest place you can be right now. So, no, It doesn't intimidate me."
People from other countries visit the restaurant. Peter Wirth is from Germany. He said he came to see the weapons and the women who carry them.
"And so we stopped here because we are a little bit hungry, and a guy on the street say this grill is famous for beautiful ladies and all ladies (are) wearing guns."
The food served at Shooter's Grill has names that relate to firearms. They include "Shotgun Burrito" and "Locked and Loaded Nachos."
The subject of guns is an emotional one in the United States. Many Americans say there are too many guns in the country. Others say they are permitted under the U.S. Constitution to own weapons and they will not stop doing so. Of the 50 states, 30 let people carry weapons openly, without permission from the government. Colorado is one of the 30.
John Dyer is the chief of police in Rifle.
"Well, what an ‘open carry' means is that people are allowed to carry guns in the open -- like, for instance, that I'm carrying it on the side, on the side here. That will be considered ‘open carry' versus a ‘concealed carry,' where I'm, I'm, I'm hiding the weapon."
Some Shooter's Grill customers are not happy with the restaurant's open-carry policy. Tom Fare is from Cleveland, Ohio. A friend invited him for a meal.
"I'm not a fan of guns. I'm uncomfortable with the fact that our country is, parts of our country are as fascinated with guns as they are."
Others in Rifle agree with Mr. Fare. They think guns should not be permitted in a restaurant. They think letting waitresses and customers carry loaded weapons is just a way for Shooter's Grill to advertise the business.
I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.
VOA's Lin Yang and Enming Liu reported this story from Rifle, Colorado. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted their report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
firearms – n. a small gun
premises – n. a building and the area of land that it is on
holstered – adj. placed in a holster -- a leather weapons case that is worn on the body
arises – v. to begin to occur or to exist
altercation – n. a noisy or angry argument
alley – n. a narrow street or passage between buildings
alarm – v. to cause (someone) to feel a sense of danger; to worry or frighten (someone)
intimidate – v. to make (someone) afraid
versus – preposition used to indicate two different things or choices that are being compared or considered
fan – n. a person who likes and admires someone or something in a big way; a supporter
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