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
Images of this Property
30 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contributions from Lou Fancy, Kerri-Ann Pontifice, and Google Streetview
Copyright prevents the display of these images:Bustling recreational destination planned for vacant Shooters site in Providence, Providence Journal
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
#In the News
Thousands turn out to toast new waterfront cafe
by Providence Journal Staff
Providence Journal | June 22, 1990
India Point was awash with cars yesterday as thousands of people attended the opening bash at Shooters Waterfront Cafe.
Lt. Richard Sullivan said the problems developed about 5 p.m. “when everyone tried to get there at the same time.
“I heard they invited 2,000 people and were expecting 5,000,” he said.
Management of Shooters, a restaurant and marina, could not be reached for comment.
“Initially everyone was sort of trying to get to the same parking spot,” Sullivan said. “There’s only so many parking spots there, in the street, and once they were taken, we had to block off a few streets” — at Gano Street at the east entrance to India Point Park and at Tockwotton Street at the west end.
Many people who were on their way to Shooters parked as far away as Davol Square to the west, Gano Street to the east and Wickenden and Sheldon Streets to the north.
While traffic on city streets was jammed, it flowed freely in both directions on Route 195, to which most of the India Point traffic was routed after the open house festivities at Shooters ended at 7:30 p.m.
“Thousands turn out to toast new waterfront cafe.” Providence Journal (RI), CITY FINAL ed., sec. NEWS, 22 June 1990, pp. B-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525BB9961F538D8. Accessed 29 Dec. 2021.