- Chili’s has closed its delivery/carryout location near Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the company confirmed in an email to Restaurant Dive Thursday. The news was first reported by Nation’s Restaurant News.
- A Brinker International spokesperson said the company is working to strengthen its core Chili’s business and focus on innovation inside its restaurants.
- The casual chain opened the concept in November to offer an off-premise menu that included Chili’s favorites like Big Mouth Burgers, fajitas, Chicken Crispers and the Presidente Margarita. It also offered virtual brand It’s Just Wings.
The closure of Chili’s off-premise store follows a shift in the company’s overall approach to innovation and technology. Last year, the company paused its robotics test with Bear Robotics, in which server robots were deployed at 61 Chili’s restaurants, to focus instead on deploying its “Kitchen of the Future 3” equipment.
The company’s Kitchen of the Future initiative includes tests of equipment and procedures that could improve cook times, simplify cooking and improve product consistency. This initiative is expected to speed up table turnover and drive higher sales, Brinker CEO Kevin Hochman said during an August earnings call.
In addition to Kitchen of the Future 3, the company is “improving our digital properties, perfecting our menu with a focus on our ‘core four’ and delivering a better Team Member and Guest experience,” a company spokesperson said. The core four items include Big Mouth Burgers, fajitas, Crispy Chicken Crispers and hand-shaken margaritas.
“With off-premise being one-third of our business or $1 billion annually, we know we have opportunities to refine our To-Go experience and that work is in progress,” the spokesperson said.
Among Chili’s four strategic pillars is hospitality, which encompasses improving the experience for on- and off-premise guests, Hochman said during a November earnings call. The company is looking to make jobs easier for servers so they can spend more time with guests, he said.
“We've structured our organization to be more deliberate about improving the off-premise experience end to end, removing friction for both guests and team members, and optimizing food quality for takeout and delivery,” Hochman said. “We believe this focus will accelerate the growth of this important part of our business.”