On Feb. 5, 2024, country music fans worldwide mourned the unexpected death of Toby Keith. Toby passed away from a private battle with stomach cancer. The "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" musician was 62. Toby leaves behind his wife, Tricia Lucus, and their three children — Shelley Covel Rowland, Krystal Keith, and Stelen Keith Covel. The celebrated artist also has a legacy of songs and performances that will forever live online.
But during his life, Keith wasn't only dedicated to music. Fans of the singer know that, in the early 2000s, he parlayed into the restaurant business with his chain, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill. Unfortunately, the bar hasn't been open for business in over a decade. So, what happened to the Grammy-nominated singer's bar? Let's discuss.
Why did Toby Keith's bar and grill close?
In 2005, 12 years after he debuted his first No. 1 hit, "Should've Been A Cowboy," Toby launched his first restaurant in his home state, Oklahoma. The full-service restaurants were inspired by Toby's 2003 song, "I Love This Bar." I Love This Bar eventually expanded, with Toby developing new restaurants in places like Denver, Colo., Foxborough Mass., Peoria, Ariz., and Cincinnati, Ohio, and more. The restaurant was seemingly doing great until around 2014 and 2015, when multiple locations abruptly closed.
Many of Toby's restaurants closed due to reported financial and legal issues. According to The Cincinnati Inquirer, the bar's Cincinnati location folded after it was mired in debt, owing the State of Ohio alone $38,000 in unpaid taxes. Several restaurants, including one in Dallas, Tx., sued the restaurant's owners, Boomtown Entertainment, for unpaid rent. It was later discovered that Boomtown Entertainment's owner, Frank Capri, was using Toby's restaurant chain to commit wire fraud.
According to the Arizona Republic's 2015 reporting, Capri, whose real name is Frank Gioia, Jr., orchestrated a money scheme between 2011 and 2015 after he was under witness protection for testifying about his time as mob soldier in the Lucchese Crime Family in New York.
Capri would reportedly convince developers that his locations needed unnecessary construction and would then reduce the actual construction costs, using fake contractors, acting as their own contractor, creating false documents, and submitting fake invoices. He would then pocket the real difference of the work for his gain.
In March of 2022, Cincinnati's City Beat reported that Capri collected around $12.9 million from Toby's restaurants, which never sold anything when they were opened. $2.7 million of Capri's stolen funds were reportedly spent on jewelry. Seven years after Capri's activity surfaced, he was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion. As of this writing, I Love This Bar still has two locations in Oklahoma since Capri's arrest.
What was Toby Keith's net worth at the time of his death?
While Toby's I Love This Bar restaurant chain didn't pan out the way he imagined, the "Beer For My Horses" artist still did well for himself before he died. At the time of his death, Toby was worth a reported $400 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.
Toby's fortune came from his chart-topping hits, tours, and investments. The singer, who once considered getting a "real job" if his successful career didn't pan out by turning 30, was an early investor in Big Machine Records. Swifties know that Big Machine would go on to be the company that signed Taylor Swift to her first record deal.
Toby also flourished in the liquor business when he created Wild Shot mezcal liquor in 2007, per InTouch Weekly. The alcohol brand, sold in most liquor stores, earned Toby $60 million to $100 million annually.
Despite fruitful opportunities after his restaurant debacle, Toby remained focused on the present. At the same time, he was alive and never officially spoke about the I Love This Bar scandal before he died. It's a genuine class act if you ask me.