Chili’s Bar & Grill
Chili cook-off aficionado Larry Lavine opened the first Chili’s Bar & Grill in Dallas in 1975, showcasing his Texas chili recipe for $1.50 a bowl. But while chili was part of the name, it was the 8-ounce “gourmet” burgers that really put the Tex-Mex restaurant on the map. Chili’s debuted its second location in Houston in 1976, and over the next seven years opened 21 more. In 1983, restaurant impresario Norman Brinker — who had earlier founded Steak & Ale and helped develop Bennigan’s — purchased the chain and set about to broaden its menu, recasting the burger specialist as what has come to be recognized as a casual-dining concept. Under Brinker’s leadership, the chain went public and was listed on NASDAQ. Today the international brand counts more than 1,500 restaurants in 40 countries.