Words & Deeds

Shorty’s Saloon in Garden City opens again — replaced by something ‘weird’

Troy Jackson, co-owner of Ironwood Social, chuckles as he peers across the latest new business to make Garden City feel cooler.

A forklift is parked permanently in the corner of the 7,800-square-foot space. It’s next to an artwork station with crayons and markers. Tables are surrounded by giant blue hands as chairs. A song by indie-rock band Chastity Belt plays over the sound system. The large stage is empty, except for a drum kit looming above the dance floor. On a smaller stage across the room, an acoustic guitar begs for a customer to walk up and play it.

There’s a kombucha bar with 12 taps. There’s a stocked liquor bar, too, and 12 beer taps — soon to be 24 — heavy on craft beer. Every few minutes, a bell chimes, signaling piping-hot burgers, sausages and vegan food ready to be delivered from the kitchen.

As baseball highlights flash across a row of flat-screen TVs, a couple shoots pool.

Painted tires hang from a wall.

“It’s just kind of random, right?” Jackson observes.

The hashtag at Ironwood Social’s Facebook page sums it up: #keepgardencityweird.

For decades, Shorty’s Country & Western Saloon was a landmark at 5467 W. Chinden Blvd. In the early 2000s, it became the Silver Spur. Then it reverted to Shorty’s again. Most recently, it was the short-lived Eclypse.

“Jason Aldean performed on that stage,” Jackson says. “Dierks Bentley.”

Those days are history. Not that rising country stars aren’t welcome. Basically, the entire Boise and Treasure Valley community is welcome at Ironwood Social. Even kids — until 9 p.m.

“We aren’t trying to enter into the marketplace to compete with breweries and bars and all this stuff,” Jackson says. “We don’t want to have a bunch of expectations of it. We kind of want it to take its own shape ...”

This, he explains, is why it is called a “social.”

“It’s not a restaurant, but we do serve food,” he explains. “It’s not a bar, but we got everything you wanna drink.”

Jackson and co-owner Shannon Will drew inspiration from conversations at The Beardsmith, a barbershop at 3302 W. Overland Road. “I’m their biggest customer,” Jackson proclaims. Drawing from that circle of folks, Jackson brought in entrepreneur friends as partners at Ironwood.

BBQ4Life, 930 S. Vista Ave., has set up a satellite operation in Ironwood’s kitchen. Try a breakfast burrito. Ironwood opens at 10 a.m. — and plans to go to 8 a.m. in the near future.

In a couple of months, The Beardsmith plans to relocate into the space next to Ironwood, increasing its size. A massive, interior glass door will open to merge the barbershop and social during business hours.

“When the barbershop’s open, that’s going to be fun,” Jackson says.

Before a patron hits The Beardsmith’s Beard Grease bar, why not shoot a game of pool at Ironwood?

Ironwood also has brand partnerships with Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters and Gluten Free Galaxy food truck.

In the future, another 5,200 square feet of attached outdoor space is planned for Ironwood Social, including seating and enclosed, 10-foot-by-10-foot plexiglass “dwellings,” Jackson says. “Like a dining area for yourself, so you can go hang out.”

The 5-acre plaza’s long-term development plan also includes potential for a blues, jazz or hair-metal bar, Jackson says, plus an event center with a state-of-the-art kitchen.

Garden City is getting freaky, cowboy. Who could have predicted the recent influx of breweries, cideries and wineries?

“I like being part of things like that,” Jackson says. “The whole ‘it’s a challenge.’ Or ‘it’s not thought of as the best part of town, but now they’re just trying to do something with it.’

“We’re the Social,” he says, “so let’s just see what happens.”

Online: facebook.com/ironwoodsocial.

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