Rosemont tries to evict Toby Keith's bar for back taxes, rent
Rosemont is trying to evict Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill from the village-owned entertainment district, claiming the restaurant and bar owes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of taxes and rent, according to a lawsuit filed in Cook County court.
The 32,900-square-foot country bar and restaurant has been one of the anchor tenants of MB Financial Park since it opened in 2012, and Mayor Brad Stephens personally went to Arizona in 2009 to lure Keith and the facility's operator, Boomtown Entertainment, to open a location in Rosemont.
But the company has faced financial difficulties, and in recent months, has closed existing locations or halted construction of planned facilities around the country.
Stephens said Monday he doesn't regret pursuing Toby Keith's when village officials were looking for tenants for the entertainment district.
"When we were negotiating, they were one of the hottest concepts in the country," Stephens said in an email. "Obviously there appears to be some issues. I have no proof but I am told the Rosemont location was turning (a) profit to support the others. Apparently, things have changed."
Representatives of Boomtown Entertainment didn't respond to requests for comment Monday.
According to the lawsuit, filed in July, Boomtown owes the Illinois Department of Revenue $379,958 worth of sales taxes and emergency 911 surcharge fees.
It owes another $302,976 in 2014 local property taxes, including late fees, according to the Cook County treasurer's office website. Though the village owns the property on which Toby Keith's sits, the restaurant's lease stipulates that it will pay its own real estate taxes.
Stephens said Monday Boomtown has since presented a stamped receipt from Cook County showing the property taxes have been paid, although it could take up to another two weeks for the treasurer's website to be updated since the check came from out of state.
Stephens said if the property taxes are paid, the court will likely allow the facility to remain in business.
The lawsuit also states that the restaurant has failed to pay the village rent for June and July, or submit gross receipts taxes for April and May.
A July 9 rent check was deemed to be bad for non-sufficient funds, the suit says.
Toby Keith's annual rent to the village totals more than $1 million, plus common area maintenance fees for the entertainment district, and promotional fees for marketing efforts.
Toby Keith's in Rosemont was open Monday. According to the lawsuit, the state liquor control commission was meant to revoke the facility's liquor license July 31 for not paying the state taxes. However, the bar was open as usual Monday night, with a decent crowd. The current lease expires Dec. 31.
A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Stephens said he's already begun talking to other potential users for the facility once Toby Keith's eventually leaves.
"Those are just talks at this point," he said.
Other Toby Keith locations have closed in recent months, including Cincinnati, St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Orlando, Newport News, Virginia, Houston and Folsom, California, according to published reports.
Media outlets have reported similar circumstances with the company's finances, such as failing to pay sales taxes, rent, and contractors for work performed.
Construction on a Toby Keith's in Cleveland was stopped, and the company backed out of plans to open a location in Greenville, South Carolina.
Boomtown licenses the use of Toby Keith's name from the country music singer.