Employees say they didn't know about Toby Keith shut down

Former employee reacts to Toby Keith's shuts down

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The doors closed at Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill on Thursday.

According to a spokesperson for The Banks, the building tenant defaulted under its lease.

"The Banks continues to be a great place for people to live, work and play, and is thriving," read the brief press release. I Love This Bar and Grill was one of the first restaurants to open at The Banks in 2012.

The chain, founded by county music singer Toby Keith, shut down three locations earlier this year. Parent company Boomtown Entertainment announced six new restaurants were planned for 2015, and a lease for a Cleveland location was in the works.

A former employee of the bar told FOX19 NOW that he didn't know the bar was closing until seeing the news on social media.

"There were employees who were there ready to go to work," the former employee, who wished to stay anonymous, told FOX19 NOW. "They were told they couldn't work today because they closed the doors."

The employee said there were some signs that the bar's days were numbered. He said the bar began to run out of food during the All-Star Week festivities and some upper management suddenly resigned.

"Why weren't we told this was going to happen and prepare for it so that not just the managers could look for other jobs?" Asked the employee. "It kind of makes you feel like you weren't worth anything to the company."

According to the website, a location in Phoenix is the only I Love This Bar and Grill that has opened this year.

Cincinnati's I Love This Bar and Grill was accused of not paying rent in 2013. According to a lawsuit filed by the landlord, the restaurant was past due $200,000 in and other costs. An attorney for Toby Keith claimed the tenants were behind on rent due to a contract dispute with the landlords.

Just minutes before The Banks announced the closure, the restaurant posted a sandwich promotion to its Facebook page. "We've got the perfect way to "spice" up your lunch," it read.

Keith is the highest paid country music singer in the world, according to Forbes.

FOX19 NOW is reaching out to the owners and tenants for comment and will continue to update this story.

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