Country music once again has a home up at the High Street retail center in North Phoenix, albeit one that isn’t the namesake of a superstar singer.
Cowboys Saloon, a rustic eatery and bar that hosts live music, recently opened in the spot formerly occupied by a Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar location. Like its predecessor, which quietly vamoosed last fall after only four months in business, the new establishment is big on western kitsch, a country soundtrack, boot-scooting action, and waitresses in Daisy Dukes and tanktops.
That said, the 14,300-square-foot property was stripped of any trace of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar during a five-month renovation and rebranding process, according to the Cowboys Saloon staff. That includes the signature guitar-shaped bar and its red, white, and blue color scheme, both hallmarks of many of the Toby Keith’s locations in the nationwide chain of country bars endorsed by the singer.
In its place are plenty of reclaimed wood and rustic digs, like a frontier town-style façade along one wall, which underscore the spot’s country bar/saloon concept. They kept the large dance floor and adjacent stage for live bands, however, which means buckaroos and buckarettes can two-step to steel guitars and pop country during hootin’ and hollerin’ sessions on the weekends.
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Since opening in late January, Cowboys Saloon has featured gigs by local acts like Chad Freeman and Redline on Saturdays and a ladies night on Thursdays hosted by country station KMLE, both of which have seen big turnouts.
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And later this year, the West Valley wrangler-clad crowd will be doing the same when another failed Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar, this one in Peoria, will be transformed into a second Cowboys Saloon.
The Valley isn’t the only place in the U.S. where former Toby Keith’s I Love This Bars, many of which went under during the last few years, are being reborn as Cowboys Saloon locations. BG Capital Group, a company based out of the Barbados, also bought up shuttered Toby Keith’s in both Denver and Syracuse, New York, last year as a part of an “aggressive expansion” of the Cowboys Saloon chain, which started in Florida.
No word on if the company is planning to do anything with the Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar in Mesa, which closed its doors in 2014. Who knows? If they don't, maybe local country star Dierks Bentley will scoop it up, since his small chain of similarly themed Whiskey Row joints are doing boffo business and are expanding to Gilbert and even Nashville.