Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboy bar owners. At least ones who can’t settle their debts.
The company behind Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill will have to pull off a serious bank robbery to repay the mountain of cash it reportedly owes. According to the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix-based Boomtown Entertainment faces at least $28.6 million in lawsuits, liens, and judgments.
Like a drunken coed on a mechanical bull, Boomtown had trouble holding on to its empire of guitar-shaped bars and VIP barns. Since May, the country bar chain abruptly closed 10 locations across the country, including its ranch-sized St. Louis Park outpost in the Shops at West End. The state pulled its liquor license in June after owners failed to pay the tax man.
At the time, a company spokesman told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal they would settle their tab with the state and that they were looking for a downtown Minneapolis location. But considering Boomtown has closed 17 of its 20 Toby Keith bars in the last 18 months, local bro country fans might not want to hold their breath.
As of September 3, Toby brass still owed the Minnesota Department of Revenue nearly $112,600. Of course, it’s no sweat off the namesake country star’s brow, as Keith wasn’t an owner — just a naming rights deal, and Boomtown isn't the only crew to operate the Keith-branded bars.
It seemed like rapidly expanding Toby Keith bars were milking the cash cow, until nationwide closings started piling up along with claims that vendors and landlords were getting stiffed. The West End’s property manager did not return messages seeking comment and the phone lines rang eternal at Boomtown HQ.
Boomtown and its affiliates have reportedly been sued in 24 cities including Dallas, where two years ago a judge ordered them to cough up $1.4 million after not paying rent. Other lawsuits alleged it scammed landlords for money to improve one location, but spent it on another. Despite the closures and mounting litigation, the Republic reports that the company was still talking about opening new locations in August, yet either backed out of or delayed construction on three purported new bars.
Oh, well. Since the West End Toby’s closed, sad True Religion cowboys have likely moseyed on to sushi happy hours at Crave instead.