Chili’s Grill & Bar, the casual-dining division of Brinker International inc., is building a smaller to-go-only unit that is expected to open in October near the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, the company confirmed Monday.
Dallas-based Brinker would open the to-go-only Chili’s in a former Starbucks location, the Community Impact website first reported last week.
Construction is under way, but the signage on the window clings did not offer a planned opening day.
“With a smaller floorplan than other locations, this new Chili’s concept would serve delivery and to-go only, designed to cater to Southern Methodist University students,” the website noted.
In a May earnings call, Wyman Roberts, the former CEO of Brinker, said that off-premises sales remained at “at more than 200% over pre-pandemic levels as we continue to grow the delivery business.”
Chili’s has added third-party delivery partners beyond its initial deal with DoorDash, he said.
In addition, Roberts said, “we're taking our brands to previously untapped markets and expanding points of distribution around the country through those kitchens and smaller footprint locations. We've seen our global partners embrace this as well, so we're optimistic about the potential, both domestically and internationally.”
Joseph Taylor, Brinker’s chief financial officer, noted that Brinker is keeping all options open for formats, for the company’s Maggiano’s Little Italy brand as well as the virtual It’s Just Wings and Maggiano’s Italian Classics.
Dense urban areas might benefit from delivery-only units, Taylor said in an earnings call in February.
“The options we're looking right now that are the two units that we're looking at that are by college campuses, one here in Dallas and one in Columbus [Ohio],” he said. The sites, apparently referring to the SMU location, are in the 1,500- to 1,800-square-foot range, leased and managed by Brinker, Taylor said.
The Dallas SMU location is in the middle of a strip shopping center on Mockingbird Lane, about a block from the campus. The center is anchored by a La Madeleine restaurant at the west end and a CVS drug store at the east end with a campus bookstore in the middle.
Brinker owns, operates and franchises more than 1,600 restaurants in 29 countries and two U.S. territories.
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