Once upon a timeÖ
1967 → Chili’s founder, Larry Lavine attends the inaugural Terlingua Chili Cook-off hosted in Terlingua, Texas, by famous race car legend and Lavine’s father-in-law, Carroll Shelby. Lavine falls in love with chili cook-offs and in turn creates Chili’s® Grill & Bar to share that love with his friends and family.
March 13, 1975 → Larry Lavine opens the first Chili’s® Grill & Bar in Dallas on the corner of Greenville Ave. and Meadow Rd. Chili’s was among the first of its kind, pioneering the world of casual dining, with a full-service restaurant boasting a fun, funky and laid back atmosphere. The restaurant was known for serving mouth-watering, napkin-soaking gourmet burgers out of baskets and having a line of customers around the corner.
Nov. 18, 1976 → Chili’s opens second location in a Houston remodeled flower shop on Richmond Ave.
1978 → Doug Brooks’ first day at Chili’s. Doug, who is now the longest tenured Brinker team member, is also the Chairman, President and CEO of Brinker International, and a highly respected industry leader who has been recognized for his talents by several publications and restaurant industry organizations.
1983 → Norman Brinker, known as the father of the restaurant industry, buys Chili’s 23 restaurant locations, scattered across six states and takes on the task of transforming Chili’s “Hamburger Hippies” into future restaurant industry leaders.
1983 → Chili’s, Inc. is listed on NASDAQ and goes public with its Initial Public Offering.
1984 → Chili’s hits the airwaves with its first TV promotion introducing Fajitas, the newest menu item, an introduction that causes an uproar in the kitchen! Until this point, burgers and fries were only served in baskets, so skillets and plates were brought in to better (and more safely) serve the sizzling menu addition. Salads, chicken sandwiches and buffalo wings were also added to the menu.
1986 → I want my Baby Back! Chili’s introduces fall-of-the-bone, delicious Baby Back Ribs to the menu and the original Baby Back Rib jingle hits the airwaves.
May 3, 1986→ Chili’s inaugural 10k run is hosted in Dallas and benefitting several local charities including Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital for Children. The run, which was held for more than 10 years, allowed Brinker to raise more than $2 million for Scottish Rite to date.
Nov. 22, 1989 → Chili’s, Inc. acquires Romano’s Macaroni Grill®.
1990 → Chili’s, Inc. is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange as EAT.
1991 → Chili’s, Inc. changes name to Brinker International, Inc. to encompass the company's growing restaurant portfolio.
Nov. 11, 1991 → Lettuce Entertain You opens the first Maggiano’s Little Italy® in Chicago on the corner of Clark and Grand.
Dec. 2, 1991 → Chili’s opens first international location in Canada.
Dec. 8, 1992 → Chili’s opens first restaurant in Mexico.
1992 → Chili’s inks franchise agreement with Pac-Am Food Concepts to expand into East Asia.
1994 → Norman Brinker retires, appointing Ron McDougall as the new CEO of Brinker International. Norman remains on as Chairman of the Board.
1994 → Chili’s introduces the President Margarita® as first top-tier Margarita. This hand-shaken margarita made with Sauza Conmemorativo Tequila, Patrón Citrónge organe liqueur and Presidente® Brandy is shaken and served table-side.
1994 → Brinker acquires On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina®.
July 19, 1994 → Chili’s expands to the Middle East by opening a restaurant in Egypt.
1995 → Brinker purchases Maggiano’s Little Italy from Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You.
1996 → Big Mouth Burgers® are introduced to the menu as Chili’s goes back to its burger roots. The Big Mouth Burger, in many varieties from the classic Old Timer and Bacon Burger to newer favorites with blossom strings and black peppercorn, is still a signature item available on Chili’s menu today.
Aug. 28, 1996 → Chili’s new version of the Baby Back Ribs jingle premieres on the CW Network (formerly known as the WB) solidifying the tune in pop culture history.
June 7, 1997 → Chili’s opens first restaurant in South Korea.
1997 → St. ChiliHead Day was founded to commemorate the anniversary of the first Chili’s which opened in March 1975 on Greenville Ave. in Dallas. The “St.” was added to coincide with the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Chili’s team members celebrate each year with an outdoor party at the Dallas headquarters, where partygoers have an opportunity to savor a slice of Chili’s birthday cake (either in the shape of a hamburger or a giant chili pepper) and give back to the community.
1998 → Brinker begins its sponsorship of The Pavilion at the HP (formerly EDS) Byron Nelson Championship golf tournament, a partnership that spanned over a decade.
1999 → Chili’s Baby Back Ribs jingle is made famous in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" when Mike Myers’ character Fat Bastard, adlibs the jingle, forever engraining the song as one of the most recognized jingles in history.
2000 → Brinker restaurants begin selling gift cards.
2002 → Memphis-area Chili’s restaurants begin partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® located in Memphis, Tenn., with a coloring sheet promotion that raised $14,000.
2002 → Singing sensations ‘N Sync appear in a Chili’s commercial singing a harmonized version of the Baby Back Ribs jingle.
2002 → Chili’s opens restaurants in three new countries – Taiwan, Qatar and Oman – giving the brand a presence in 22 countries.
2004 → Chili’s launches national St. Jude partnership with the Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer campaign. Each September during National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, Chili’s kicks off the nationwide fundraiser to support the St. Jude mission of finding cures and saving children. Throughout the Create-A-Pepper campaign, guests at locations nationwide and in Puerto Rico can help support the lifesaving work of St. Jude through several in-restaurant, digital and interactive promotions.
Oct. 27, 2003 → Chili’s opens on Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, making it the first casual dining restaurant to open on any U.S. Air Force. This also marks Chili’s first restaurant in Japan, with 23 countries now on its international rolodex.
2004 → Ron McDougall steps down as Brinker CEO. Doug Brooks is appointed as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Brinker in addition to his President title.
Aug. 3, 2004 → Chili’s opens 1,000th restaurant at Pinnacle Park in Dallas.
Oct. 1, 2004 → Chili’s opens first continental European location on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
2005 → Chili’s celebrates 30th anniversary.
June 22, 2006 → Chili’s makes 10-year, $50 million dollar commitment to St. Jude, that once completed will be the largest corporate donation to the hospital.
Nov. 14, 2007 →The Chili’s Care Center opens on the St. Jude campus in Memphis, Tenn., making this the first patient care building on the hospital’s campus be named for a corporate partner.
May 30, 2007 → Maggiano’s announces national partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation® to help make dreams come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Dec. 18, 2008 → Romano’s Macaroni Grill is sold to Golden Gate Capital.
June 9, 2009 → Chairman Emeritus Norman Brinker passes away at the age of 78. His legacy to the foodservice industry will live on through the brands he helped grow and expand across the globe. He mentored an industry of leaders who transformed casual dining into an everyday celebration and demonstrated how to serve the world a great taste of life.
May 9, 2009 → Chili’s celebrates 200th international restaurant with the opening of its location in Bangalore, India.
April 2010 → Maggiano’s unveils private wine label, Ruffino Salute Amico. Produced and bottled by the world-renowned Ruffino winery in Tuscany, Italy, the wine, which is available only in Maggiano’s restaurants, is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend that pairs well with many Maggiano’s menu offerings.
June 30, 2010 → Brinker sells On The Border Cantina Mexican Grill & Cantina to Golden Gate Capital.
Feb. 2, 2011→ Chili's opens first restaurant in Russia in Moscow's historical city center, Novy Arbat.
Sept. 21, 2011→ The first Chili's in Brazil opens in São Paulo.
Nov. 11, 2011→ Maggiano's Little Italy celebrates the brand's 20th anniversary at flagship restaurant off Clark and Grand in Chicago
Sep. 4, 2012→ The first Chiliís restaurant opens in San Jose, Costa Rica.
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