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Why Chili’s Matters the Most to Brinker International

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Chili’s: An overview

Chili’s is the most important restaurant concept under the Brinker International, Inc. (EAT) umbrella. Chili’s contributed about 86%, or $2,443 million, to the company’s sales in 2014. Out of Brinker’s 1,615 restaurants, 1,569 of them are Chili’s. Of this number, 838 restaurants are company owned, with 824 in the United States and 14 in international markets.

Chili’s menu includes appetizers, soups, chili, salads, sandwiches, fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, ribs, steaks, seafood, and desserts. The company also introduced a lighter menu that offers meals under 650 calories.

Last year, Chili’s introduced Fresh Mex and Craft Burgers to its menu. The Fresh Mex offering includes Fresh Mex bowls, tableside guacamole, and mix-and-match fajitas.

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The fight to appeal to a broader audience

Restaurants have been trying several techniques to appeal to a broader audience. For example, Darden Restaurant’s (DRI) LongHorn Steakhouse offers a light menu under 575 calories. Bloomin’ Brands’ (BLMN) Outback Steakhouse offers freshly made sides.

Customer preferences have shifted in the United States, and fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) are giving casual dining restaurants a run for their money. The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) holds about 1% of CMG, and 4% of McDonald’s (MCD).

Chili’s offers alcoholic beverages such as draft beer and margaritas. In most locations, Chili’s has a separate entrance for to-go orders for quicker service.

With the fast-changing technology age, Brinker management has taken a few initiatives with mobile apps and a tabletop ordering device. We’ll cover these in more detail later in the series.

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at Brinker International’s second brand, Maggiano’s Little Italy.

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