New Book Tells the Story of Mafia Front Man, Toledo Bars, and an Award Winning Song
Updated: Nov 4
Most people have heard the lyrics, “In a bar in Toledo, across from the depot.” Many recognize it from Kenny Rogers’ hit song “Lucille.” Those of us living in Northwest Ohio know that bar as the Country Palace.
A new book, “A Bar in Toledo, the Untold Story of a Mafia Front Man and a Grammy – Winning Song,” tells the story of the man behind the Country Palace, Duane Abbajay. It goes further than the bars. It shares the stories of musicians and mobsters in the Toledo area.
London Mitchell sat down with authors Dominic Vaiana and Stephanie Abbajay, daughter of Duane Abbajay, in his recent “Staying in Contact” segment on Towpath Radio. They discuss the book and the fascinating history of the mob in the Toledo area.
"When Duane Abbajay took over his brother’s bankrupt nightclub in 1962, he promised his wife it would be a quick turnaround to protect his family’s name. Instead, he became the face of a bar that transformed Toledo's entertainment scene and inspired a Grammy-winning country song—all under the thumb of a trigger-happy mafia boss. Informed by interviews with crime historians, bartenders, and bargoers and corroborated by FBI reports, this Rust Belt psychodrama offers a new perspective into the worlds of organized crime and the music business, which were closely entwined. Emotional, theatrical, and dripping with nostalgia, "A Bar in Toledo" is a love letter to the golden age of American music—and the dark underworld that made it all possible."