Brinker sells 21 Chili’s for $19M

DALLAS Brinker International Inc. sold 21 Chili’s Grill & Bar units in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to Muy Mucho Group LP, a new franchising company, for $19 million, the company said Monday.

Muy Mucho, based in Dallas, is headed by Mark Menking, former president of the La Madeleine Bakery and Café. In addition to acquiring the 21 Chili’s, Muy Mucho agreed to develop between five and 10 new Chili’s restaurants in the three-state region.

This is Brinker’s first refranchising deal this fiscal year, which began in July, a company spokeswoman said.

Over the past several years, Brinker has been refranchising corporate-owned and operated restaurants to franchisees, which can help trim corporate costs and drive improved unit-level performance with the help of strong franchise operators. About 40 percent of Brinker’s 1,699 units were franchised as of the end of its September-ended first quarter. Between the first quarter of 2009 and first quarter of 2010, the company has refranchised 29 Chili’s units.

At Muy Mucho, Menking serves as president and chief executive. Jeff Jones, a 24-year Chili’s and Brinker veteran, is chief operating officer.

“The extensive industry experience and expertise held by the Muy Mucho team will ensure their success as they begin operations leadership and further brand development for Chili’s in this region,” said Don Reyburn, Brinker’s vice president of franchise development.

In addition to Chili’s, Brinker International owns Maggiano’s Little Italy and owns and franchises On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina. Brinker owns a minority investment in Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] [3].