Chili’s to slash 40% of menu

Casual-dining chain to debut “less is more” offering on Sept. 18

Chili’s Grill & Bar is paring its menu back by 40 percent and will introduce a new offering systemwide on Sept. 18, the company said Friday.

The Dallas-based division of Brinker International Inc., said in August that the “less is more” menu would debut this month. The move will cut the menu to 75 items, from the 125 it offered in January. 

“By eliminating 40 percent of our menu, we’ve reinvested in meatier burgers, ribs and fajitas – the items that we’ve always been known for,” said Kelli Valade, Chili’s president, in a statement.

The reduction would help Chili’s improve speed of service and positively shift the sales mix with “a simpler menu, better quality, faster execution and stronger value,” Wyman Roberts, Brinker president and CEO, told analysts in August. 

Chili’s said it also improved recipes and enhanced portion sizes. Rib specifications now call for 30 percent more meat than before, Roberts said. Chili’s does not plan to increase prices, and the move is being supported by “an aggressive marketing plan,” he said.   

In tests of the pared-down menu, Roberts said Chili’s customers have ordered more higher-priced items like fajitas, combos and ribs. That has tended to increase average check, he said.

Some of the menu items to be removed include a Crispy Asparagus appetizer and Mango Chili Tilapia entrée, the company said.

“We apologize to any guest who misses a departed dish,” Valade said, “but with this bold move we commit to all guests to do a better job of serving our famous food on every visit, in every restaurant.”

Other menu categories like burritos, enchiladas and flatbreads would also be removed, along with ingredients ranging from cauliflower to quinoa, Chili’s said.

“Over the next week, Chili’s will share more about what’s going away and what’s new,” the company said in a statement Friday.

In the fourth quarter ended June 28, Brinker reported that net income fell 18.7 percent, to $50.6 million, or $1.02 per share, from $62.2 million, or $1.12 per share, the previous year, which included one less operating week. Revenue fell 8.1 percent, to $810.7 million, from $881.7 million the previous year.

Brinker’s same-store sales systemwide declined 1.8 percent in the quarter. Chili’s same-store sales dropped 2.2 percent at company-owned restaurants and fell 1.7 percent at franchised units. Same-store sales rose 0.5 percent at Maggiano’s Little Italy.

As of June 28, Brinker owned, operated or franchised 1,674 restaurants, including 1,622 Chili’s locations and 52 Maggiano’s units. 

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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