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Saturday, October 08, 2011

#1493 - The Ranch Club, Garden City, ID - 7/1/2011

Garden City is a small town inside of Boise, which has long catered to "the kinds of activities the leaders of Boise didn't want connected with their city, but still wanted close enough to enjoy." (Boise Weekly)  It has been home to small casinos, porn shops, pawn shops and seedy motels, stretched out along one large street (Seattlelites can picture Aurora Avenue).   It was named for gardens raised by Chinese immigrants who once lived in the area. (The name of the main street, Chinden Boulevard, is a portmanteau of "China" and "garden.")

An iconic feature of the area for the last 60+ years has been the rearing horse of the Ranch Club, a bar inside an old log cabin, with a shady history that pre-dates even its location in Garden City.  The sign and parking lot were used in the Clint Eastwood movie "Bronco Billy."  The building hosted prostitution and gambling, and in later years was simply a dive bar frequented by local oldtimers.  Garden City has been cleaning up a bit in recent years, and the Ranch Club has been revitalized by Al, the amiable, new owner, who caters to a younger crowd.  He's added live music, big seats from an old airliner, smoked prime rib, and various events.  There's a patio under the stallion, with horseshoe pits around the side.

Al told us that the building was originally constructed in Payette in 1908, and physically moved to Garden City in 1948, when gambling was legal.  (I'd love to find some documented background from the pre-Garden City history of the place.)  We chatted for a long time about bars of the Boise/Nampa area, and eventually asked Al for a recommendation on where to watch Fourth of July fireworks.  "Oh there will be shit blowing up everywhere," Al told us, "Because let's face it, we're redneck kinda people."


3544 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714 - 208-343-7447
Est. 1948 - Building constructed: 1908
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