Words & Deeds

After 69 years, this landmark bar in Garden City is closed again. What’s the deal?

Tour the new Ranch Club saloon in Garden City

The remodeled Ranch Club, 3544 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, Idaho, held a private gathering two days before it reopens June 2, 2017.
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The remodeled Ranch Club, 3544 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, Idaho, held a private gathering two days before it reopens June 2, 2017.

As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink beer when the taps are shut down.

Or something like that.

The Ranch Club in Garden City is closed. Again. The landmark bar at 3544 W. Chinden Blvd. last shuttered in 2017, then reopened months later under new ownership.

Information is scarce, other than the word “Closed” on the marquee outside.

What I do know: The business was sold early this month. It closed Jan. 7 for the ownership switch and was expected to reopen quickly.

I’ve been unable to track down the new owner. So take this for what it’s worth: I’m told that the bar will reopen — as the Ranch Club — as soon as the liquor license is transferred. Again, that’s unconfirmed, but I have reason to believe the information is accurate, which is why I’m sharing it.

(Update: Here’s more about that from BoiseDev.com.)

When and if the Ranch Club returns, let’s hope more Idahoans decide to belly up to the bar.

Things were looking optimistic a year and a half ago. After fading over the years into dive bar status, the Ranch Club was remodeled and reopened as an attractive, outlaw country bar with live music.

The Ranch Club in Garden City is entering a new era with a complete remodel. The distinctive entrance, used as a backdrop in the movie Bronco Billy, is about the only thing that hasn't changed.

But the kitchen closed in late 2018 because of lack of business — never a good sign. Despite Garden City becoming hipper as an entertainment zone, the Ranch Club never quite got over the hump as a consistently popular watering hole.

Whether they frequent the bar or not, Boise history buffs are interested in the Ranch Club. The building was moved to Garden City in pieces from New Plymouth in 1949. The Ranch Club opened in 1950. It had slot machines until gambling was made illegal in 1953.

A scene in Clint Eastwood’s 1980 movie “Bronco Billy” was filmed in front of the bar.

The large horse outside has tons of history, too. When the Ranch Club does fold for good, it definitely needs to be saved.

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Michael Deeds covers entertainment for the Idaho Statesman, where he chronicles the Boise good life through news articles and opinion columns. Deeds first invaded the Statesman as an intern in 1991. Since then, he’s also freelanced for publications ranging from The Washington Post and Relix to the airlines magazine in the seatback in front of you.