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Chili's to extend tablet rollout, launch loyalty program

The parent of Chili’s is launching a diner loyalty program and a line of frozen grocery items — both moves designed to extend the reach of the chain that turns 40 next year.

Executives with Dallas-based Brinker International, which also owns Maggiano’s Little Italy, discussed the moves with analysts Thursday.

Brinker, which ended its 2014 fiscal year June 25, said putting aside nearly $40 million to settle a long-playing class-action suit lowered its fourth-quarter profit nearly 40 percent.

Brinker profit was $28.8 million, or 43 cents a share, down from $46.4 million, or 64 cents a share a year earlier.

The class-action case was filed by California workers in August 2004 regarding breaks and meal periods. A preliminary settlement reached Wednesday “seeks to resolve all claims in exchange for a maximum settlement payment not to exceed $56.5 million,” the company said in a prepared statement.

The agreement is subject to court approval.

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