Chili's Grill & Bar is a restaurant chain founded by Larry Lavine on March 13, 1975 in Dallas and sold to restaurateur Norman Brinker in 1982. Today, under the ownership and management of Brinker International, the chain has grown throughout all 50 States, in 10 Canadian provinces, and in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America with over 200 locations. Worldwide, there are more than 1500 casual dining restaurants, and growing.
When the first Chili's opened in a converted postal station, people waited in a line wrapped around the corner of Dallas' Greenville Avenue and Meadow Road to sample the food and enjoy the casual atmosphere of this funky, new burger joint. Copper chili kettles serviing as lamps hung above Mexican-tiled tabletops that held a collection of beer bottles filled with salt and pepper. An odd assortment of antiques, toys, signs and Texas memorabilia hung from the ceiling or perched on shelves. Guests could even play tunes from a jukebox stocked with 50s and 60s melodies for free! From the start, the food, atmosphere and prices were a hit with teenagers, young adults and families. It was among the first restaurant of its kind and it helped pioneer the casual dining industry.
Since the first mouth-watering, grilled burger was served, Chili's menu has continued to expand over the years by pioneering, first nationally and then internationally, signature products such as Big Mouth Burgers; beef and chicken Fajitas (its televised promotion in 1984 created a national headlong rush into Chili's stores); fall-off-the-bone, delicious Baby Back Ribs (promoted by the now-famous jingle: "I want my baby back"); and the Presidente Margarita introduced in 1994, which featured a higher-tiered Margarita recipe.
Today, Chili's serves 281 million guests annually at its 1500-plus stores, making it one of the largest casual dining restaurants in the world. Moreover, as testimony to its social responsibility and with the loyal support of its patrons, Chili's has raised for the past 10 years more than $50 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Menphis, TN.