ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — It may be a geographical anomaly, but Minnesotans love their country music.

Now, a local club is being recognized as one of the nation’s best. Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill in St. Louis Park is a nominee for an Academy of Country Music Award as Nightclub of the Year.

“You don’t think of that in Minnesota. You think of that in Oklahoma, in the south,” said Denise Emge, over lunch at Toby Keith’s.

“I think it’s kind of crazy. I don’t know a lot of cowboys here,” said Deb Gagnon, another Toby Keith’s patron.

Even the bar’s General Manager, Matt Sutton, said he didn’t see this coming.

“I logged on to our Facebook page this morning, like I always do and then we actually saw the nomination. That’s a good thing to wake up to this morning, that’s for sure,” said Sutton.

The nomination is no mistake. The bar draws national acts like Uncle Cracker and Thompson Square, and country music fans come out in droves. The St. Louis Park bar and grill is among five other nominees, including Billy Bob’s Texas (Fort Worth, Texas), Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace (Bakersfield, CA), Grizzly Rose (Denver, CO) and Wormy Dog (Oklahoma City, OK).

“It’s crazy,” said Darren Benoit, a country music fan who has seen a few shows at the bar. “I’ve been here on a Tuesday night and the place is wall to wall all the way back to the door.”

So while the image of the suburban cowboy might take some getting used to, St. Louis Park is suddenly a hot bed of honky-tonk.

“It is a little bit strange to see people walking in with a cowboy hat,” said Benoit.

The guys at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill are already making plans on what to do it if they win.

“I’m pretty excited about it to be honest with you,” said Sutton. “If we got it, I would definitely post it in the front door and make sure we show it off to everybody too.”

You can watch the Academy of Country Music Awards at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 1 on WCCO-TV Channel 4.

Comments (30)
  1. Err says:

    I believe there’s more than one Toby Keith bar.

  2. Sean says:

    The sound system at Toby Keiths is AWFUL! Very suprising nomination… If you want to hear better sounding live music in Twin Cities, the Cabooze is good.

  3. Lucia says:

    Vote for Frank Vascellaro tonight by midnight (Thursday, Jan.26) for MyTalk 107.1’s Manuary:

  4. andyd says:

    Februrary 1st is not a Sunday.

  5. Hennessy says:

    I agree with Sean, the sound is terrible. Not sure what the other Toby Keith’s are like for layout, but maybe they made a mistake and intended for a different location.for the nomination. Sorry, but I’m sure if Toby would ever play there, he would agree.

  6. Ruth says:

    Food is great and so are the servers. No room to dance, people stand on floor sloshing their drinks. Got to yell to talk with someone next to you. Good to watch someone famous but then get out.

  7. Mikey says:

    Horrible service story from Friday: As a group of 30 we planned to end the night here considering we had spoken with the GM over the phone and he had told us that we would not have to pay cover for that big of a group. When we got there the manager was extremely rude and said he would not allow us in unless we paid the cover. We unhappily paid and went on with the evening. The next day we called to speak with the GM who was quoted saying, “if you can’t afford the $5 cover, don’t go out… have a good 2012 – click.” He just hung up. The message received is that they don’t need your business and they certainly don’t care about honoring their word. I won’t be going back and hope you don’t either.

  8. Pat says:

    I myself am a huge fan of country music and will NEVER go back to this bar. It’s actually pathetic that a bar with this kind of service would be nominated for such an award. Happy they listed Matt Sutton on this email because this guy is absolutely ridiculous. The way he handled a situation with my group of friends is embarrassing. Thankfully, he is contained to working in a bar the rest of his life and isn’t running around teaching our children or something equally important.

  9. Andy says:

    GM Matt Sutton is on a power trip unrivaled in the Twin Cities. The number of likes on his facebook page must have wiped out any shred of ethics or good sense. The lie: “Cover is free for your group.” We show up and a second clause is added at the door…”before 12am”. With 30 patrons waiting outside that live in the area and regularly coordinate happy hours and birthdays at this bar, the manager condescended to our plebian hoard with this great compromise, “Here is what I can do: You can pay $5 a person, or you can leave”. I am still not clear on whether the manager was Matt but in any case the Matt backed up this decision the next day and ensured that 30 country loving drinkers and their friends will not return to Tobys.

  10. Reid e poo says:

    I love lamp

  11. michael scott says:

    I had heard bad things about the bouncers at this place, but I had heard great things about the lady folk there. My first three visits to TK’s was a fun time; although I have to say, if I started my own bar, I wouldn’t have 374 pictures of myself, and name every drink and meal afters myself either. Anyways, I had been told to not stand on the rails at the front of the concert, it happened again, but its because the crowd got so big I was pushed into the railing. Three bouncers came up to me, yanked my wrist behind my back and threw me out. I am a small guy and posed no threat. My wrist was sprained for three weeks, and the girl I was with asked why they were so violent to a guy who basically did nothing, they continued to kick her out. I think GM Matt Sutton needs some new policies, this is Minnesota Brah. He sounds like a duetsch from the comments above.

  12. Andy says:

    frostbite outside of TK B&G > Sutton

  13. Pat says:

    The song “Red Solo Cup” > Sutton

  14. Jack says:

    VHS tapes > Sutton

  15. Dentite says:

    Mangiest of the Mangy > Sutton

  16. Bob Sutton says:

    I do not appreciate all this slander directed at my son. Matt is a very good boy and he needs each and every one of your $5 in order to purchase the newest map packs for Call of Duty.

  17. Clem says:

    Sampson’s intensity > Sutton

  18. steve says:

    I’m not big on C&W music. The C&M of today is more pop than country. Been to Toby’s once. It was nice. I thought the hostess and waitstaff were very friendly. But the bar itself, isn’t a country bar. It’s like a techno bar.

  19. Evan says:

    Wine night with Babes > Sutton

  20. Art Vandelay says:

    The NBA sponsored commercial about not using gay slurs > Sutton

  21. Chocolate Starfish and The Hot Dog Flavored Water says:

    I like turtles

  22. Brittany says:

    I agree with everyone’s comments about the General Manager, Matt Sutton. He is absolutely horrible. He obviously doesn’t believe in any sort of customer service, and he is extremely rude! He shouldn’t even have a job as a manager because he doesn’t handle his role very well. The bouncers are very aggressive and warn people about bumping into people on the dance floor. It is a dance floor and people are going to bump into each other. I won’t be going back to Toby Keith’s ever again, and I wouldn’t recommend this bar to anyone!

  23. J. Suh says:

    Health and Safety Inspectors reported there were a “good amount of fruit flies” in the kitchen and bar area back in June. The food manager also didn’t have state certified food manager certification to show the inspector. There are a number of other violations reported by the inspectors on this website:

  24. J. Suh says:

    Read about health violations that food inspectors have found at Toby Keith restaurants across the country here:

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