Words & Deeds

Ranch Club to reopen — as a smoke-free, ‘classic’ country bar

When the Ranch Club opened in 1950, there was no horse above the sign. But it’s become locally famous in recent decades.
When the Ranch Club opened in 1950, there was no horse above the sign. But it’s become locally famous in recent decades. mdeeds@idahostatesman.com

Don’t put the Ranch Club out to pasture just yet.

The historic restaurant and lounge, which closed in early February, will reopen as soon as April 15.

Local bar mogul Jason Kovac purchased the business at 3544 W. Chinden Blvd. this week.

“I’m an old Boise High kid,” Kovac says. “I have an opportunity to love the town I live in and bring back the things that are iconic. The Ranch Club, back in the day, used to be one of the top places to go in the Valley.”

Kovac’s master plan: Restore the Ranch Club to its past glory — as a country bar years ago. But this time, a smoke-free country bar. Before it shuttered suddenly, the Ranch Club was one of the last Garden City establishments to allow smoking inside.

“What I want to bring back is the integrity and heritage and the history of what the Ranch Club was,” Kovac says.

A landmark at Chinden Boulevard and Orchard Street, the Ranch Club has distracted passing motorists for 67 years with the rearing palomino above its sign. The building was transported to Garden City in pieces from New Plymouth in 1949. When it opened in 1950, the Ranch Club had slot machines, which were still legal. It was used to film a scene in the 1980 Clint Eastwood movie “Bronco Billy.”

Kovac, who also owns Boise watering holes Tom Grainey’s, The Silly Birch, Whiskey Bar and The Shed, says he’s “99 percent” sure the Ranch Club is the last bar that he’ll buy. So he’s treating it as a labor of love with a past era in mind.

“I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel,” he says. “They had a basic menu, but it was good, food-wise. Look at the sign — it says ‘live music’ on top of the building. We’re going to build a stage.”

Live music won’t be the bar’s focus, but it will be a significant part of the weekend atmosphere.

“We’re probably going to have music on Saturday nights,” Kovac explains.

Improvements to the Ranch Club will come in waves throughout 2017, Kovac says. And if the bar isn’t ready to open its doors by mid-April, he’ll push back the opening.

“I want it to be right, and I want it to be classic,” Kovac says. “Just make it warm and comfy and clean again. What people remember. Dancing and fun and live music.”

“I’ve always wanted a country music place,” he adds fondly. “And you know I’m an old punk rocker!”

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds