Cherokees Love This Bar and Grill

Toby Keith made an appearance at Cherokee Casino Resort last week to announce that his restaurant, I Love This Bar & Grill, is coming to Catoosa.
Construction is expected to begin in November. The project, currently in design phase, will be completed by December 2008. The 10,000-SF venue will seat about 400 and is expected to employ 70-80 people.
The restaurant will blend a full menu, a bar, dancing and entertainment. The menu will include a range of steak, a 16-ounce chicken fried steak with gravy, “freedom” fries, BBQ ribs and other traditional Oklahoma fare.
The restaurant will be the fourth installment of the chain. The first Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill debuted in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown in 2005 and is managed by restaurant mogul Hal Smith, who has brought the likes of Mahogany, Red Rock Canyon Grill and Charleston’s to Tulsa. Restaurants at Harrah’s Las Vegas and Harrah’s Kansas City have followed. Hal Smith and his group will manage the location at Cherokee Casino Resort.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is just one piece of the Cherokee Casino Resort expansion that Cherokee Nation Enterprises CEO David Stewart called “$125 million of a lot of fun.” The restaurant will connect with the new concert hall, providing a direct route for diners to the concert scene.
Wilma Mankiller, former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, asked Keith at the conference if he would be among the performers in the new concert hall.
“If y’all get the money right,” Keith said, smiling. “You get the zeros on the check right, and I’ll show up in a phone booth.”
In addition to the restaurant and the concert hall, a 21-story hotel tower with 200 executive suites will be added, 750 electronic games plus additional banquet and convention space.
“The addition of Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill means that the Cherokee Casino Resort is staying an the forefront of the casino industry in Oklahoma,” said Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith. Smith, incumbent chief since 1999, is up for re-election this year. The election is June 23.
A location at Cherokee Casino Resort made “a lot of sense” to Keith, since “I’ve been living here my whole life, and I know no one likes to party more than the Cherokees. They’ve been doing it a lot longer than we have.”
“This will be as close to Tulsa as we’ll get,” Keith said in an interview. “By the time we get one here, and we’ve got one in Oklahoma City, we’ll probably be able to put one down in Texoma at a resort down there, that will pretty much cover the state.”
“We have about 45 restaurants in seven states,” said Smith of Hal Smith Restaurant Group. “Tulsa is absolutely our best market. Per seat, this is a hot, hot market. You guys like to go out and eat, and you like to have fun, you like to have your glass of wine and bottle of beer.” ?



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