Violet Sanford, leaves her hometown and her father Bill Sanford to pursue her dreams in New York City. When leaving town to become a songwriter, she signs an autograph, which is pinned on the wall of the pizza place where she worked. The wall has many other autographs signed by the rest of the small town employees that left town hoping to make it big.
Violet tries unsuccessfully, dozens of times, to get her demo tape noticed by the studios. With only a few dollars left in her pocket, she goes to an all-night diner and notices some girls flaunting the hundreds of dollars in tips they earned. After inquiring, she finds out that they work at a trendy bar named Coyote Ugly. She finds her way to the bar and convinces the barowner Lil to hire her because she looks like a kindergarten teacher who the childish bar patrons will come to see. After starting her job, she quickly discovers she must learn the ropes of singing, dancing, and performing wild acts before a rowdy crowd.
One night, she tries to get herself noticed by a music industry scout. The bartender jokingly points out Kevin O'Donnell, played by Adam Garcia, making her believe that he is the bar owner. When the joke is discovered, Violet feels that Kevin was making a fool out of her. This event eventually brings them closer together. Kevin tries to help her in overcoming her shyness on the stage and they finally become lovers, in spite of his attempt to hide his past and departure from Australia. She finally lands a deal with a record label after a successful performance at an open mic night at the Bowery Ballroom, which was attended by all of the 'Coyotes' from the Coyote Ugly saloon.