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Toby Keith adding country-style restaurant to North Shore mix

| Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, 1:10 p.m.

A restaurant and concert venue with a country music twang will be the second celebrity-branded eatery on the North Shore.

Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grille will go into the ground floor of one of two office buildings to be built on North Shore Drive across from the Del Monte Building, not far from concert venue Stage AE and a short walk from Jerome Bettis' Grille 36.

Partners Continental Real Estate Cos. of Columbus, the Pittsburgh Steelers and restaurant operator Boomtown Entertainment LLC of Phoenix announced the plans on Wednesday. Continental will build three-story office buildings, dubbed North Shore Place I and II, on a parking lot near Heinz Field.

“In 2000, the land on the North Shore was largely idle,” said Continental Chairman Frank Kass. “Working with our partners the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, we have revitalized this area and created a vibrant mix of entertainment, hotels, restaurants and office space.”

Continental, in an exclusive development rights deal with the sports teams, built the two Del Monte office buildings, Stage AE and the Hyatt North Place Hotel. It amounts to $125 million in private investment, according to the company.

Keith initially planned his restaurant for South Side Works, but an agreement with a subsidiary of the retail, dining and entertainment district's developer, Soffer Organization, dissolved into a lawsuit over leasing terms.

Menu items at Keith's restaurant chain, which started in 2005 with three locations in his home state of Oklahoma, include Southern-style foods such as fried okra, barbecued ribs and chicken, fried catfish, a fried bologna sandwich and a fried Twinkie for dessert.

The restaurant will feature a red, white and blue guitar-shaped bar and a stage where country music acts will perform three or four nights a week. It is expected to employ 250 people, including part-time workers.

The restaurant name is based on Keith's song, “I Love This Bar” from his 2003 album, “Shock 'n Y'all.”

Work on the office buildings is scheduled to start in March. The restaurant would open in spring 2014.

Barry Ford, Continental's president of development, said each building will have spaces available for restaurants, stores or entertainment venues. Keith's restaurant is the first confirmed tenant.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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