Chili’s: I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…

It all started with one big bowl of chili.

Chili’s 1,236 U.S. Store Locations

From a hamburger joint in 1975 in Dallas, Texas, to a wildly successful chain of restaurants featuring Southwestern-inspired, classic American and international flavors. Yep, that’s Chili’s.

Back in 1967 in Terlingua, Texas, a young entrepreneur named Larry Lavine attended a chili cookoff. Inspired by the delectable taste of chili, he developed his own chili recipe and in 1975 he opened the first Chili’s in a converted postal station in Dallas, Texas.

Lavine’s plan was to create a comfortable and informal dining restaurant where folks of all ages could enjoy delicious chili and hamburgers at an affordable price. The restaurant, with its Southwest-themed décor, was a brilliant success. By the 1980s, the sassy chili and burger chain had grown to 28 locations.

In 1983, industry legend Norman Brinker (formerly of the Pillsbury Corporation) bought the chain from Lavine. He expanded the menu to include baby-back ribs, fajitas, Buffalo wings, chicken sandwiches and salads. To this day, Brinker International still owns the chain.

Today, Chili’s has more than 1,600 locations worldwide.

In 2014, Chili’s installed 45,000 touchscreen tablets on their tables. No server required. The tablet lets you order your meal and pay for it. As a bonus, the kids can play games on it, giving Mom and Dad a chance to talk to each other.

In 2017, Chili’s cut about 40 percent of its menu items to focus on burgers, fajitas and, of course, their World-Famous Baby-Back Ribs. In addition to the regular menu, Chili’s offers a nutritional menu, an allergen menu, and a vegetarian menu.

Chili’s at North Olmsted Mall, Ohio

Good corporate citizenship…
In 2006, Chili’s made a 10-year, $50 million commitment to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. They completed their commitment in 2016, having raised the largest corporate donation in the hospital’s history. Shortly thereafter, Chili’s started a new fundraising program to raise $30 million over six years for the St. Jude School Program for patients.

A few interesting facts about Chili’s…
The Brinker Family Fund: the employees of Chili’s take voluntary pay deductions to create the Fund which is distributed annually to employees who are dealing with serious illness, death and natural disasters.
Larry Lavine’s 1970 chili recipe has never been changed: Larry’s original Terlingua Chili recipe made with beef, poblanos, jalapenos and onions, is still used today.
Chili’s has more than 281 million guests annually: that’s more than 35 times the population of New York City.
Burgers: Chili’s serves enough burgers every year to stretch across the 3,000 miles of the continental United States, from ocean to ocean.
Margaritas: Chili’s makes enough Margaritas every year to fill up more than 4,500 bathtubs.
Fajitas: every year Chili’s uses 60.4 million pounds of Fajita meat–that’s more than four times the weight of an average US military submarine.
Chili’s president: Wyman T. Roberts, Chief Executive Officer and President of Brinker International, Inc., is also President of Chili’s.

Have you ever noticed an upside-down picture in one of Chili’s restaurants? Well, rumour has it that one day, someone accidentally hung a photo wrong-side-up and
the idea simply caught on. Check it out!

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

Leave a Reply