The First Chili’s
The year was 1975, and people were waiting in line wrapped around the corner of Greenville Ave. and Meadow Rd. in Dallas to sample the food and casual atmosphere of a funky, new burger joint called Chili’s. Copper chili kettles serving as lamps hung above Mexican-tiled tabletops and scattered with a collection of beer bottles filled with salt and pepper. An odd assortment of antiques, toys, signs and Texas memorabilia were strung from the ceiling or perched on shelves. Guests could even play tunes from a jukebox stocked with 50s and 60s melodies for free! The food, atmosphere and prices were a hit from the start with teenagers, young adults and families. It was among the first restaurant of its kind and helped pioneer the casual dining industry.
70,000 Tabletop Tablets
Chili’s partnered with Ziosk®to bring tabletop tablets to all restaurants nationwide in Sept. 2013. The new tabletop technology complements the fun and personal dining experience Chili's is known for, while putting the convenience and control of on-demand ordering, entertainment and payment all at the guests' fingertips. Chili’s was the first in the casual dining industry to meet the demand for guest-facing technology and enhance the dining experience by placing more than 70,000 tablets on all restaurant tables across the country.
Throughout the late 70s and 80s, Chili’s was known for serving a grilled, mouth-watering, napkin-soaking gourmet burger. It was one of the best, if not the best burger around. Our burgers have evolved over the years and continue to be a signature item available on the Chili’s menu today. Our Craft Burgers are savory and crafted to perfection on potato buns and with toppings including house-made garlic dill pickles and spiced panko onion rings.
In the early 80s, fajitas could only be found on the menus of a few Mexican restaurants in Texas and many people had never heard of the dish. Chili’s changed that when the Sizzling Fajitas were introduced to the lineup of food choices. After a successful test run, Chili’s rolled out Fajitas to its 23 locations nationwide in 1984. Fajita smoke filled the air, and lines of hungry guests rushed to the restaurants. Some restaurants ran out of fajita skillets, and others even ran out of fajitas! To celebrate this newfound success, T-shirts were created for servers reading, “I survived the Summer of Fajita Madness!”
Baby Back Ribs
Baby Back pork ribs were added to Chili’s menu in 1986, and of course, the launch of a new menu item called for a new advertising campaign. The marketing department collaborated with their advertising agency and local Dallas jingle writer. Viewers could almost taste the fall-off-the-bone tenderness as television screens across the country were filled with mouth-watering visuals of dark, smoky racks of ribs as simultaneously, the now-famous jingle: “I want my baby back, baby back, I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...Chiiilliiiis baby baaack riiibbs!” played as the ribs were triple-basted with Chili’s own barbecue sauce. Not only have the Baby Back Ribs become one of Chili’s most craveable offerings, but the song is one of the most recognizable jingles in pop culture history.”
The famous ribs and jingle have even popped up on various television series, including “Will & Grace,” “The Office” and “Scrubs.” Versions of the jingle have been performed by the singing group ‘N Sync, the boxing champion Evander Holyfield, USA’s Olympic gold medal gymnast Dominique Dawes and “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. Ad Age magazine named the song first on its list of “10 songs most likely to get stuck in your head” in 2004. Perhaps the most memorable rendition of the jingle was performed by Mike Myers’ character, Fat Bastard, in the 1999 smash movie, “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”
For the brand’s 40th anniversary, the jingle was recreated by musicians, song writers and guests who were asked to sing along. See the final product on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysAe_DdZO-E
The year was 1994 and the place was Cancun, Mexico, where the Chili’s team was celebrating a successful end to the brand’s first top shelf margarita promotion. It was there that Chili’s liquor vendor pitched a new, higher-tiered margarita recipe. The drink was served the first night in Cancun and that was all it took. Upon returning to Dallas, Chili’s added the margarita to the menu – with a special touch – Presidente® brandy. Thousands of guests have since ordered the Presidente Margarita® over and over again!
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