KHOU has reported that Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill at West Oaks Mall is locked out for nonpayment of rent. Furthermore, contractors who have done work there are claiming that they aren't getting paid, either. They say that I Love This Bar & Grill owes them more than $150,000.
There's no plan to reopen, either. According to a press release reported on by KTVN in Reno, the closing of the Houston restaurant, as well as locations in Folsom, California, and Newport News, Virginia, is a "strategic" move. The chain plans to focus on other cities, including Cleveland, Greenville, South Carolina, and, oddly, San Antonio.
When former Houston Press restaurant critic Kaitlin Steinberg visited in August 2014, she decided that she definitely did not love it. The headline of her review read, "Dear Toby Keith, You Don't Want Your Name on This Bar & Grill." She went on to cite burgers that she was told "came off a truck," "sickeningly sweet" barbecue sauce and waitstaff whose shorts were so short that "their ass cheeks hang out the back."
Perhaps the most baffling decision of all, though, is the location. West Oaks Mall has been troubled for years, despite a $24 million renovation that was to have been completed in 2012. An entire wing of the mall sat empty for months. Even by the time Steinberg visited, she described it as a "virtual ghost town."
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With all that against it, it seems as if I Love This Bar & Grill was doomed to be spurned from the start.