Banks tenants bracing for winter by revamping offerings in the fall

Toby Keith's plans to expand concert offerings

CINCINNATI - Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is planning to expand its concert offerings this fall, in a bid to keep the bar lively as winter approaches.

“Our strategy is to do as many as we possibly can,” said John Thomas, vice president of marketing at Boomtown Entertainment, the Phoenix, Ariz. –based operator of the Toby Keith bar concept. “Back half of the year we’ll probably have six to eight, maybe 10 (shows), more than last year.”

It’s the second tenant at the Banks riverfront development to retool its offerings in recent weeks. Mahogany’s at the Banks brought in veteran Cincinnati restaurateur Michael Comisar to update its menu and renovate its space. A slow winter for Banks tenants last winter led to threats of eviction against Mahogany’s.

The bar concept licensed by country star Toby Keith has been through several managers in its first three years. It was sued for back rent in 2013 as part of a dispute over lease language. It faced a state tax lien for unpaid sales taxes in May. The lien was paid off in time for the bar to renew its state liquor license in June, state officials confirmed.

“We are current with everything, don’t have any issues really at all with that location. We plan on being there for the (10-year) term of our lease,” said Greg McClure, executive vice president for the corporate parent.

The Toby Keith event calendar has three shows slotted in September and a Jana Kramer concert in October. Thomas said he is awaiting confirmations from additional acts, “up and comers” that can draw crowds to the 16,000-square-foot bar later in the year.

“We’re heavily depending on Thursday to Saturday business in the winter,” Thomas said. “In this business, it’s all about getting another night.”

Holy Grail Banks owner Jim Moehring is happy that his neighbors are being proactive about the upcoming winter.

“You’ve got to take care of what’s inside your four walls and make sure you put out a good product,” Moehring said. “I just think people are growing into this space and knowing what they need to do.”

Moehring said riverfront tenants are eager for future phases of the Banks to bring service retail, new apartment dwellers and General Electric office workers to the blocks east of Paul Brown Stadium. But he thinks Banks tenants also need to maximize their own drawing power for the district to be a success.

“I heard Toby Keith was here for about an hour Friday night (an appearance tied to his Riverbend concert),” Moehring said. “They can be a draw if done correctly.”

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