Did you guys know Toby Keith has a chain of restaurants? I recently walked by one of the yet-to-be completed locations:
In case you can’t read, it’s called “Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill.” I don’t know how the restaurant itself is going to turn out, but I have a few problems with the name. Now, for all you Toby Keith fans out there, I understand the name is derived from one of his songs. It’s still stupid.
First off, it’s an entire sentence. That’s not a name, that’s a Yelp review. They’re throwing way too much information at us. A restaurant’s name is supposed to convey a certain vibe in one or two words. This place tells us what it is (a bar and grill), who’s behind it (Toby Keith) and what he thinks of the place (loves it). Relax. You don’t have to be that forthcoming right off the bat. That’s like starting a dinner date by saying, “Hi, I’m Karen. My parents ruined my life and I hate them. Want to go halves on an appetizer?”
It reeks of insecurity, like they’re trying to cover up some kind of shortcoming. “Look, Toby Keith loves this place. You should too. I’m telling you, it’s great. Really. We definitely don’t use expired meat. All our cooks have their papers. That isn’t a cockroach. Milk is good for seven day’s after the expiration date.”
Right now, the place’s only selling point is that Toby Keith loves it. That’s fine, but what if Toby Keith and I have divergent culinary preferences? What if Toby Keith’s palette is unrefined? Now I’m worried I’ll order a cheeseburger and the chef will bring out a hunk of wolf meat on a bagel with a moldy Kraft single on it, shrugging as if to say, “Sorry, this is Toby Keith’s idea of a cheeseburger.” Or what if I order chicken tenders and it’s just a half-cooked pigeon with the poor pigeon’s face still intact, horrified expression and all? All because one time when he was 10 Toby Keith had pigeon, and he didn’t think it was half bad.
My entire dining experience is dependent on Toby Keith’s taste. I don’t care if Toby Keith loves this bar and grill, I want to know if I love this bar and grill. They should call it “Toby Keith’s I Assure You the Food Here is Pretty Good by Most People’s Standards.” When I’m choosing a restaurant, a lot of factors come into play. Menu. Service. Atmosphere. You know what doesn’t? What a country singer thinks about the place. Other restaurants know this, which is why TGI Friday’s is called TGI Friday’s and not “Kenny Chesney Thinks the Jalapeno Poppers Here are Decent.”
The other thing is that when I walked past the restaurant-to-be, it was just a boarded up, unfinished structure. How do we REALLY know Toby Keith will love this bar and grill? Because right now it’s just a bunch of wood, nails, screws, and power tools. Does Toby Keith take all his meals in the middle of construction sites? I’m picturing him at a fancy restaurant with a waiter emptying a pepper grinder full of sawdust onto his pasta waiting for TK to say “when.” Or maybe eating an entire chicken sitting on a beam near the top of a Depression-era skyscraper while guys in hardhats walk by precariously.
My nightmare scenario? The restaurant is a huge success, and all businesses change their name to reflect Toby Keith’s opinion of it. Target becomes “Eh, It’s Got Trucker Hats and Flannel Vests But Not Much Else.” Pottery Barn becomes “Containers You Can Spit Tobacco In.” And Taco Bell becomes “Good Food, Not Sure About the People Who Made It Though.”