Agreed, you will need to remove the paint on the side before using a bonding agent like JBweld. Try a wire wheel in your drill.
If you use the right bonding agent you will not even need the rivets. My son-in-law used a bonding agent he got from where he works on the hood scoop on my 65 Mustang and it seemed to work very well even at speeds over 100. The bonding agent is an epoxy adhesive called HiSol...???
For now my smoker is on a table on the back patio. I am planning on using some scrap wood from a couple other projects to build a table for the MES to sit on permanently. I am planning a shelf off to one side so I have a place for the platters and such as well as a door with hooks for tools to hang on. I likely will not need handles to move it around.