Saturday, June 23, 2012 | 8:05 p.m.
Ever since the Mongols Motorcycle Club members rumbled into Boulder City with their tattooed bodies, low-riding motorcycles and black leather vests that declare “Mind your own business,” they have been downright pleasant.
At least that’s what Cindy Ford, owner of Southwest Diner and Restaurant, has noticed.
Ford’s restaurant, Southwest Diner, seems like the last place someone in a motorcycle club that considers itself the “Baddest 1 percenters” would be. It is the definition of quaint, with dolls and flowers along the wall, antique tool decorations and signs that read “Give Thanks” and “The Woman’s Guide to Love and a Lasting Relationship.”
Yet Mongols members have flooded her restaurant with business since they arrived Friday. Ford said they’ve been polite, friendly and great tippers.
“My friend Shirley, who is 80 — she is just the sweetest little lady — came in yesterday,” Ford said. “And a couple (of Mongols) stopped to talk to her. They were just really nice. It was real cute.”
Ford’s restaurant is across the street from Boulder City Inn, the site of this year’s national Mongols meeting. The event has brought more than 300 club members as well as more than 100 police officers waiting to pounce at the first sign of trouble. No one knew what to expect from the gathering.
Some worried it would bring rival clubs like the Hells Angels, inciting a shootout like what occurred at a motorcycle rally in 2002 in Laughlin. Others felt it would bring a big boost to business. Instead, Mike Sitton, a Boulder City resident, said the event, which has been the buzz of the town for two weeks, has been quiet.
“It’s a hummer, a yawner,” Sitton said. “As far as I can tell they’ve barely been downtown.”
The most action since the group’s arrival has involved minor traffic tickets for not using a turn signal and jaywalking.
Instead, many of the Mongols are behaving like, well, tourists. A group purchased ice cream sandwiches from an ice cream truck, others visited local restaurants and many walked around near the hotel. Lee Bennett, owner of Little City Grille, said he thinks they’re enjoying their stay, and went out of his way to make them feel at home with a “Welcome Black and White” sign.
“They’re having a great time,” said Lee Bennett, owner of Little City Grille. “They love the food, they love the atmosphere.”
Still, many locals have stayed home to avoid any trouble with the Mongols. Frank Freer, owner of Frank’s Barber Shop, said almost no locals are outside. His shop is in the heart of downtown, a few blocks from the hotel. Normally he said the sidewalks would be filled with foot traffic, but on Saturday, all he’s seen are a few Mongols and a lot of police officers.
“A lot of (locals) said they’re not going to come up here, they’re just going to stay away,” Freer said. “I’m not going to let it stop me from doing whatever I want to. If I go somewhere and there’s Mongols there, so be it.”
Freer said his business has dropped off dramatically. John Kaposta, manager of Tony’s Pizza and Subs downtown, said his bar and restaurant is usually packed, but on Saturday there were open seats and tables everywhere.
“There’s been a few of our regulars come up, but really the last few days, it’s been three of the slowest days we’ve had,” Freer said.
On Sunday, however, all the excitement will be gone, rumbling out of town the same way it came in. There may not have been a lot of excitement, but Ford said it will give the peaceful, small town a lot to talk about.
“We’ll just be talking about it the whole week,” Ford said. “It’s something for a small town to say, ‘Oh they were here.’”