Brinker closes on 116-unit Chili’s deal

The company said it plans to invest in the stores at an accelerated rate.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Chili’s Grill & Bar parent Brinker International has completed the purchase of 116 Chili’s restaurants from what had been the casual chain’s largest domestic franchisee, ERJ Dining. The price and other terms were not disclosed.

The restaurants generate annual revenues of about $300 million, Brinker said when it announced the deal in July. More recently, the company told investors that it anticipates raising that tally and the profits that follow. “We are in the midst of developing plans to invest in these restaurant at an accelerated pace, with proven programs that have driven solid performance in our company-owned restaurants,” Brinker CEO and Chili’s President Wyman Roberts told financial analysts during the company’s most recent quarterly conference call. 

At a gathering of investors a few days later, Brinker said it is committed to operating as well as franchising restaurants. Company-owned stores can be updated more readily, a key consideration because 85% of Chili’s sales come from customers dining on-premise, Roberts said. He also cited the “must” of investing quickly in technology and the ability to deliver more consistent operations. 

The ERJ purchase raises the proportion of the Chili’s chain that’s run by Brinker to 86% domestically. 

The deal ends a 14-year relationship with ERJ, the restaurant company of former NBA star Junior Bridgeman and his family. The Bridgemans announced in 2016 that they intended to sell off their hospitality holdings to concentrate on their Coca-Cola bottling operations.

Chili’s owns or holds the franchise rights to 1,612 restaurants in 30 countries. It is a sister concept to Maggiano’s Little Italy, a chain of 53 family-style Italian restaurants, all in the United States.

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