Shooter’s Waterfront Cafe

also known as Waterline, Bombers, Bootleggers

A former waterfront nightclub overlooking Narragansett Bay that operated under many different names in its 10 year lifespan

About this Property

#Reason for Demolition

This former nightclub hotspot went through many iterations in its first 10 years, but by 2000, it was closed down. The folks who worked there or frequented its multiple bars with a view of the Bay loved it and have great stories to share.

Alas, in 2000 the land was annexed by the State’s D.O.T. From there, it took 10 years to figure out that the building had rotted into a severe safety hazard, but the concrete pier remains. It is amazing to us that after another 10 years this site has still not been developed into anything substantial. Public access to the waterfront is fantastic, of course, but that there is not a new building here of some kind is a mystery.

#Current Events

The site is the launch dock for RideTheBay water ferry service to Bristol and Newport. Providence to Newport ferry service started at this location in 2015.

#History

Shooter’s, part of a national chain of casual waterfront dining and dancing venues, was in a three-story building that could accommodate nearly 1,600 patrons. The 25,000-square-foot complex featured dockside dining, a waterfront pool, bars inside and outside, a top-floor restaurant and a 90-slip marina. One of its incarnations included a boat valet. It cost $6 million to build in 1990.

Some facts from an article in Providence Journal, Nov 2, 2017. Others pieced together from the anecdotes and from our previous page information

1990
The Shooters nightclub opens to a brief and controversial existence that featured a spring break aesthetic and a quick bankruptcy.
The 1990 opening date was reported by the Providence Journal and can be confirmed with the Providence Aerial Viewer. There was nothing at this location in an aerial from 1988.
circa 1993
Changed name to “The Waterline” and tried to be an upscale dining experience. Fireplaces were probably added for this incarnation.
circa 1995/1996
Changed ownership and name to “Bombers”.
circa 1998
Changed ownership and name to “Bootleggers”. This is most likely when it because a circus of color.
2000
The property was taken by eminent domain by the state Department of Transportation and used as a staging area for the relocation of Route 195.
January 7, 2009
The site of the former Shooter’s Waterfront Cafe goes up for sale. The state asked $3.5 million with proceeds from the sale financing the next parts of the Route 195 relocation. Area advocacy groups and elected officials asked that the “crown jewel” of the city’s waterfront remain in the public domain. “This is the most beautiful view of Narragansett Bay that we have,” said Sen. Rhoda E. Perry, D-Providence.
The state paid $4.7 million in compensation for the three-acre site. Just over a third of the property was needed for the new Iway infrastructure; the remainder was needed only temporarily for use as a staging area for the project. Committee chairman Kevin Flynn said the state is obligated to put the property up for sale because 80 percent of the purchasing cost was covered with federal money.
February 23, 2010
The City Planning Commission (CPC) decided to support retention of public access to the site vs. allowing residential development. The Fox Point Neighborhood Association launched a public information campaign on efforts to preserve public access dating from 2007.
2010
The DEM purchases this property as part of a $14.7-million recreation bond, which passed overwhelmingly. It also financed the acquisition of the former Rocky Point amusement park in Warwick. The state was obliged to use proceeds from the sale to pay back federal funds that were initially used for acquisition.
2011-2012
In October the former nightclub is demolished. In an initial request for development proposals (RFP), DEM received one bid from a group looking to construct a concert venue. That plan dissolved for lack of financing.
2015
Through another proposal process, David Dadekian, founder of Eat Drink Rhode Island, proposed a public food market on the site. It made only minimal progress as the state needed to finish its plans for the entire property before he could seek financing.
2017
The state DEM releases plans to build a 200+ ft, L-shaped fishing pier that could accommodate the Providence-Newport ferry, boat slips and dinghy storage.

To date (2020), no new structure has been built with the existing concrete piers and no new fishing pier has been added.