After a 14-month run, the 20,000-square-foot restaurant and country music-themed business at Tucson Mall closed on Friday. 

Gerald M. Gay

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill at the Tucson Mall closed Friday night.

A sign posted on the window Saturday suggested the mall was in the process of evicting the business. The notice, posted by mall owner General Growth Properties, said the landlord had “retaken possession of these premises as a direct result of your breach of the contract for rental.”

It went on to say that the landlord also seized the building’s contents with the intention to sell them within 60 days if the owners of Toby Keith’s, Scottsdale-based Boomtown Entertainment LLC, could not make good on unpaid rent.

Boomtown officials could not be reached for comment Saturday and Tucson Mall Marketing Director Brighid Brown, in a written statement, said she could not comment on the specifics of the Toby Keith lease.

“While we never like to see a tenant leave, we’re always actively looking for the best retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues to enhance the shopping experience at Tucson Mall,” Brown said, adding that the mall is “looking forward to announcing new restaurants and retailers in the near future.”

Toby Keith’s was open for business Friday night. Employees were given no warning that it would be the last night, former manager C.J. Urban said on a Facebook posting Saturday morning.

“My heart goes out to the staff who lost their jobs overnight. I feel so bad for them and I promise I did not know this was coming,” Urban posted on Facebook.

Toby Keith’s opened on New Year’s Eve 2012, months later than Boomtown officials had projected when they announced in summer 2012 that they would move into the 20,000-square-foot space across from the Cheesecake Factory They had anticipated opening in October 2012.

At the time Boomtown CEO Frank Capri said Tucson was “a great market for us. We love the town, love the people. We’re going to be there for a long time.”

Boomtown operates two other Toby Keith’s restaurants in Arizona — one in Mesa and another in Peoria. It also has restaurants in California, Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Virginia, Minnesota and New York.

The restaurant/bar is not owned nor affiliated with its namesake country singer, who was at the Tucson restaurant’s grand opening last April. Toby Keith slipped into Tucson to meet with fans and perform a couple of songs before he headlined the Country Thunder Festival in Florence.

Toby Keith’s is the second large restaurant to vacate the mall in the last year. Last March Brio Tuscan Grille pulled out of its cavernous location next to REI outdoors store. Company officials at the time said the store never met corporate sales expectations.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.