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March 17, 2007

Would you miss Chili’s?

Continuing my “would you care” series

Does Chili’s provide such a unique product and customer experience that we would be saddened if it didn’t exist? Does Chili’s treat its employees so astonishingly well that those workers would not be able to find another employer to treat them as well? Does Chili’s forge such unfailing emotional connections with its customers that they would fail to find another restaurant that could forge just as strong an emotional bond?

What say you?

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» Evaluating Impact: Who Would Miss Us If We Were Gone? from The Bamboo Project Blog
John Moore of Brand Autopsy is running a periodic blog series he calls Would You Care? He features a particular company (today it's about Chili's) and asks readers if they would miss the company if it went out of business. [Read More]

» from The Perfect Customer Experience
In a world of too many of everything, there are brands that just exist because ... well, who knows why they exist. It's not that some of them are bad. It's just that they are not great. The customer experience is a bit like eating a bowl of pablum or e... [Read More]

» How Unique is Your Product? Your Service? Your Company? from Chris Webb: Publishing, Media, and Technology
Today, Josh Hallet points us to John Moores wonderful Brand Autopsy blog, where John has been writing a would you care series. His most recent entry concerns Chilis. If Chilis went out of business tomorrow, would any... [Read More]

» Who would you miss? from larry borsato
Brand Autopsy asks if [Read More]

» Would you miss from Master the Business
John Moore at Brand Autoposy has a number of posts about the customer experience. We have talked a little in this blog about the customer experience and what it means to our customers. Some of his posts are thought provoking. One example is his post t... [Read More]


Would I miss Chili's? In a word, "no".

The experience is about as generic as you can get - from the service to the food to the layout of the restaurant itself. There's nothing inherently 'bad' about Chili's - it's just that the cuisine and fare are so generic - I find it difficult to see how it can compete with the likes of other restaurants.

...I want my baby back, baby back, baby back,
I want my baby back, baby back, baby back, ...


Bar B Que Sauce

Who's singing with me?

I wouldn't care at's reheated and microwaved foods served by disaffected staff. Nothing would be missing if GenericFoodRestaurant went out of business.

Would I miss Chillis? I sure would.

We eat ate everything here in austin from the local mac&dons, to the opulent driskol and even a ruths chris in a pinch. We are trying to eat at every top restaurant in Austin.

We just ate at Chillis last night - Loved it. Had the mushroom jack fajitas. We go there about once a week to eat. It is one of the closest restaurants to us and have eaten lunch and dinner quite often.

The only thing even remotely comparable would be, AppleBees, Benigans, and Fudruckers.

I find chillis beats those 3 hands down in:

- food quality
- food cost
- service quality
- dinning experience.

The food quality is always consistently excellent. In dinning at chillis over the last 5 years, I can honestly say I have never had a bad meal.

The food is unique and tasty. The large cob and chefs salad are as good as you can find - even better than high brow restaurants costing multiples more. I often love the fajitas and related Mexican fare. Wash it all down with a Margarita from the bar and you have the makings of a next meal.

The atmosphere is also quite unique to chillis. The rustic barn pole look to most chillis in the midwest and south, gives a down home feel without feeling to woodsy that most people enjoy.

What I don't get, is what's up with the name and the logo? I've never had a spicy hot meal when I have been there. It always looked like a head fake to me.

Many businesses, like Starbucks, win by default.

Would I miss Starbucks in the West Village, NY where I live, absolutely NOT.

Would I miss Starbucks in Fayetteville, NY, where I had a meeting once, YES.

Same is true for Chili's, Applebee's, Fridays etc.

As for those workers, what are the options both on their resumes and in the community.

Do you not agree that products and customer experiences are all relative?

We had a Chili's in our town and never thought much of it -- an occasional fun time out with friends, maybe a meal in front of a big screen TV when the big game was on. But when it left, and our restaurant choices were limited, we did miss it. It wasn't the best, we didn't have an emotional connection to it (or so we thought), but in certain towns, at certain times, it plays an important role.

I think their jingle is the most important part of Chili's branding. In fact, one odd research project a few years ago determined that it was the #1 song named for "getting stuck in your head" ( That's a potent marketing tool, and I'm surprised I don't encounter more TV or radio ads promoting the chain. Run some radio ads during morning drive time, and you'll have thousands of people trying to get the jingle out of their heads all day. :)

The burgers are good, but is it any different that Applebees or TGI Fridays??

I would miss Taco Deli in Austin if it closed. But Chilis...NOPE.

The only difference between Chili's and Denny's is that Chili's does not serve breakfast.

We'd sing "I miss my baby back, baby back, baby back..."
Seriously... experience there is "generic" as mentioned above. They have to rely on menu "home runs" like the Baby Back Ribs to keep customers coming back.
For me, it's just an option among many.

I can't say that I'd miss it. I've had so many bad experiences there (kids throwing food, annoying or lousy other customers, bad service, bad food, etc) that I would actually be happy to hear it was no longer an option I had to worry about others suggesting.

I believe it's only in the East (having never heard of it till I came back east) but Cracker Barrel on the other hand is a restaraunt I would miss. They do a great job of putting forth a unique atmosphere with great food.

Odd my brother would post this the same day I picked up Chili's-to-go for dinner. Is the food memorable? Not really. Is the service outstanding? Not really. What Chili's does well is consistency and convenience, and isn't that exactly why McDonalds exisits in Europe? I do not go to Chili's for atmosphere, nor a gastronomic/customer experience. I go to Chili's because it's there and easy take-out for busy lives. Would I miss it? YES!

Well, well, well ... my twin sister, Marty Moore, joins the blog conversation with her smart take on Chili's. Welcome sis.

No...except for the gift certificates I have in my stash...Chili's joined the ranks of indescribably generic fare long ago...

I agree with SisMoore in terms of consistency and convenience.

However, that is true of all the chain restaraunts that boomed in the 80s or 90s?? You had Fridays, Bennigans, Chilis, and a host of local-regional brands that were all going for the up-scale hamburger;casual dining;happy hour to dinner dollar. It appears taht Applebees has somewhat distinguished itself from this crowd but not by much.

There was a market niche but if you did a test of the staff and food there would be little to distinguish any of these restaraunts. a company Chilis might be missed but only if there wasn;t another generic sitting right around the corner.

Great question!

But I'd have to answer no. It's just another depressingly generic suburban parking lot restaurant with burgers and nachos and ribs. I'm not sure I could tell you how it is different from Applebee's, which I've never been to. Bar food is pretty tough to mess up, so why not support a local mom and pop when the hankering for burgers and fries hits?

If you watch "The Office," you'd know that Chili's is Michael Scott's favorite hang-out...And his favorite NYC pizzeria is Sbarros.

Although I think that Chili's has some of the best southwester egg rolls around I am not so sure that I would "miss" the restaurant if it went away. I would simply find an alternative to satisfy my unwavering desire for southwestern egg rolls. For a short time I might make comments like "man I wish Chili's was still around....they had some of the BEST southwestern egg rolls ever." or "These aren't as good as Chili's." to my friends, but sooner than later acceptance and adaptation would settle in. The ability to adapt to change is one of the things that makes us human.

Even then I am not sure what king of impact it would ultimately have on my life. I mean come is just Chili's. If the closing down of any business caused great chaos in my world I would definitely have to reevaluate my life.

I'm not sure about "miss it" but I certainly would feel safer. I had a poor dining experience at my local Chili's and decided to exercise my blogger power and write a review.

The next morning when I woke up, the post was gone. Just *poof* I started to get paranoid that Chili's was more powerful than I had realized. I immediately checked the street for nondescript black vans, people on benches "reading" papers and out-of-place casual joggers.

I have not set foot in a Chili's since.

Turns out it was a database crash and backups didn't catch my post before the crash but still...spooky.

As mentioned above, the menus & experiences of Friday's, Applebee's, (locally) O'Charley's, and all of the other "flair"-based restaurants trying to be all things to all people meld together.

This is not to say that it doesn't meet a distinct need - its good when no one can agree on cuisine. But if Chili's disappeared, I wouldn't mourn, I'd just drive to the next Frapplebees.

How many of you have kids? Funny how having kids changes your culinary hang outs. They don't want originality, or new menu items, or specials. Not even sparkling water. They want the same thing they had last time. And they love Chili's and Applebee's. It's a big deal. Sure, I'd miss Chili's. I'd get over it, of course.

Wouldn't miss it.

It’s just one more place to wait 20 minutes in line for on a Friday night.


Casual dining white noise, all.

personally, i have not eaten at chili's in years. their menu is almost identical, as i remember, to bennigan's, tgi friday's, outback, applebee's, ruby tuesday's, beef o'brady's, should i go on? they don't stand out in any way. their food is good, but certainly not irreplaceable. if you want to eat at chili's, go to any of the aforementioned restaurants and call their food by another name. that's about the only way to tell them apart. would i miss it? obviously not. homogenization does not forge strong bonds.

would anyone care if this blog never exisisted? god who cares to debate whether they would miss a restraunt, go and get a life and find something better to argue about!

John, you sure do have some venom. I hope you find productive avenues to let your venom flow. -- johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy)

I can definitely tell you that Chilis does not serve reheated or microwaved food. Everything is cooked to order. Bloggers can comment on likes and dislikes, but out of fairness to the chain you should stick to the facts and take creative license as far as your preferences go. I worked for Chilis for seven years...have no vested interest there now...just thought I'd comment out of respect for the truth.


Yah over 30 Chili's restaurants have had questionable health inspections.

Chilis's is a chain comprised of more than a thousand locations in the States and internationally. What's a "questionable health inspection" and what time frame are you talking about? 30 since 1975, 30 in the past six months, 30 in your state? "Yah"...duh

I was a manager for chilis in 1979 when we had 9 stores,believe me it ain't what it used to be. It hurts me to go in there and see the hostess wearing a headset,and ignoring the customers.She may find out your table is ready without having to look around but,but i consider it rude and unfriendly, something we used to be know for in the good old days was quick and friendly service. On the food the burgers were delivered fresh daily not frozen.the fries were cut and blanched in the store daily. buns were well toasted. and our chili certainly did not have peanut butter or beans in it.YUK!I could go on for days, they do nothing from scratch anymore.When Larry Lavine left the food quality left with him. (original founder)Buy it back larry please!

No. I don't think so anyway...I think that the food is very very bland. It is good for a quick salad and that is it. I like their salads. It might just be because I am not a big salad connoisseur.

Would I miss Chili's?: No, but frankly, I don't think I'm their demographic. My spouse and I ate there a lot in the late 80s (college, basically). My most recent experience (November) was negative enough that they'd have to pay me to go: the food was pretty mediocre, the restaurant was dirty, noisy and staff inattentive.

I've never worked at Chili's, but I have worked at the TGI Friday's and the Olive Garden. If all of these restaurants that blight the countryside disappeared tomorrow I wouldn't shed a tear. When I think of the function that any of these serves a given community or anybody, I think we'd better off.

I would miss them only because I work there. As was said in several other comments, these type of chain restaurants are a dime a dozen. I have worked for Friday's and a couple others. I've been cooking for twenty years. Back when I first started cooking, all the chains still made a lot of items from scratch in the restaurant. As time went by, they all switched over to pre-made soups and sauces. The main focus of food "prep" now is just portion control. Supposedly it is an attempt to make sure that if you order a certain item in one store, you will get exactly the same thing if you order it at any other store in the chain. But I believe this has also led to blandness and lack of originality in the food. The corporate test kitchens never seem to have new and inventive things to prepare but just recycling old products combined in a different way. There is still a human element involved in the cooking process, it's not just microwave and serve, but the quality of the finished product is often mediocre at best. The reason for this is the management is more concerned about packing the guests in than making them really happy. They want to turn the tables over as fast as possible so the cooks are given quota times for preparing certain items and they are expected to meet these ticket times by any means necessary which does then often involve a microwave rather than the grill or stovetop. I personally try to avoid this as much as possible but it comes down to whether you want to get yelled at by your boss or not. I have seen this scenario in virtually every kitchen I have worked in and been told the same from fellow employees who have worked at the other chains. It is the nature of the industry. The only restaurant that would be missed would be the one who cared that a customer got their food right the first time, every time. Until then these types of restaurants will not be missed because there is always another one to replace them.

I would definitely miss Chili's... I love the chicken crispers.

i have worked for chilis for over a year and would have to say that it is one of my favorite jobs. we have fun with each other and we have fun with our customers. i can say that chilis and brinker really strive to deliver a great dining experience.there is a reason that brinker is so successful. true food doesnt come out right all the time but we do our best to ensure that it does. even before i started working there i always had the best servers and service at chilis. i love the atmosphere and i love the people. remember whenever u are dissing on a restaurant that we are all human we all have bad days and things arent always perfect... chilis is one of the only restaurants that doesnt charge gratuity. most of the people that work there really love it and have worked at other restaurants and like chilis the best... which is why we have employees that have been there over 10 years.

I have worked for Chili's for nearly a decade and I have not always Loved it but I stuck with the company and I am happy that I did. I am not a manager, merely a hourly associate but I have worked hard and have been rewarded with more money and opportunities.

Some of the comments posted seem to be taken out of context. ANY! restaurant can have a bad night and ANY! thing can go wrong. I have seen my share of surprises through the years from guest with guns to staff hankey pankey but as a whole things have been good. I will admit that I miss the days when we were ran a little more "Mom & Pop" but with growth comes change. Chili's restaurants are staffed by the current generation of mostly young people. Though a few "old" hands do slip through. Chili's is a very good cross section of our society. You can just work there until you find something else or finish school or you can make a career out of it. You can stay at the same level or try to advance. You can travel or stay in the same place. If you work hard you get more money and if you are lazy you get less. This seems to be the way things are in the real world and as it should be at Chili's. We are not "generic", we are a leader in "casual" dining. Our menu reflects what the people of this country want to eat. We have some exciting items on our menu and we have great stand-bys such as burgers & steaks. We are a place you can take your family, take a date or go have fun with friends. You can drink or not drink. It is all your choice. We even change up our menu from time to time just to give you something new to try. When has Mcdonald's really came out with something new?
I would miss Chili's for both it's food and the vast and happy memories that I have gained working for such a fine company. If Chili's was gone so would a part of America be gone. I am proud that I work for a company that had the foresight to come up with a jingle that DOES stick in your head. That is what a jingle is supposed to do!
Lay off Chili's if you don't like it and go try something else. If you had a bad experience then I am sorry, go to a different Chili's and see if it happens again. I doubt it, since all Chili's are ran by people and each and everyone is different. Chili's is almost as sacred as the quote..."of the people, by the people and for the people"...THAT IS CHILI'S IN A NUT SHELL, WE ARE AMERICAN, A MELTING POT OF IDEAS, FOODS AND PEOPLE.

Chili's has done a lot for the small town I live in. Their service is great their food is great and they are involved in community. So I would say what you take out of any experience or restuarant would be 90% you. We would miss Chili's

Applebee's has not distinguished themselves from the others. I can tell you Chili's has the occasion to loan products out to other restaurants and when they are returned they are far less quality. Applebees has pre made bacon shipped to them. Fresh?? I think not... Microwave food... yeah after the grill marks are on it they finish cooking it in the microwave because everyone is in such a hurry and must have their food now. HOW GROSS.



I enjoy going there. But only for their appetizer wings and new chicken crispers, really.

I have worked in the food industry for over 17 years. You know the difference between a mom and pop and a chain? The Guest does not EXPECT perfection. A little diner with an older waitress that is less than friendly, not a big deal because that is the expectation. Trying working at a Chili's, the consumer now can be ridiculous. How many times do you make a mistake at your job? Is the execution of your business 100% everyday? I know that it does not matter where I go, NO ONE has great customer service anymore. But heaven forbid the hostess just got yelled at because someone could not wait ten minutes for a table so she does not smile at you as soon as you walk in, or the server that forgets to bring back ketchup on the first trip and suddenly what kind of business are you running?!!!! (I can tell you some stories over how ridiculous people can act over the dumbest things- too much lettuce in a salad??) The expectation that a chain restaurant has to have everything perfect every single time when smaller restaurants do not is ridiculous! The big difference is that they try, not one person in any chain restaurant, by no means, go out of their way to make sure you have a bad experience- "Waiting" is just a movie. Be more patient and understanding, I am. That server you choose not to tip, that normally makes $2.13 an hour because the steak was not cooked right (since when does your server cook?), the hostess you yell at because you have the wait, the manager who is trying everything possible to make your experience better- they are all human. A restaurant depends on many people working 100% all the time, but people cannot be perfect! Would a miss chili's? You may not think so, but Chili's is the giant among Applebee's, Bennigan's, TGI Fridays, etc. If Chili's went, then that means all of these smaller not as stable chains would already be gone. Where would you have margaritas with with the girls? Where would you watch the game? Where would your kids want to go? Chili's has always led with new ideas and other chains pick up on them- Baby Back ribs, Awesome Blosson, fajitas- in casual dining they were the FIRST with these ideas, not the follower. I know they may not be perfect, but even a Chilis that does not run great is much better than a mom and pop any day. And with our economy, how many of those do you think can make it? Anyone feel like cooking all the time- not me!

I work for Chilis in lake wales Florida and all of your negative comments aren't anything like Chilis. THERE ARE NO microwaves or heat lamps like mcdonalds or burger king. Everything is cooked and taken to the customer right after cooking. As a hostess, we use headsets to talk to managers and our bussers. There not for enjoyment. As for ignoring customers, that we do not do. Come to lake wales and I'll show you GREAT hospitality. My hosts and I are never on a wait that exceeds 10 minutes and if you are waiting I personally go to every person and ask them if they would like a drink while waiting. As for kids, I give them kids menues early so they can color instead of running around. As hosts we are only required to seat guests but I go above that. I help clean tables and get refills. Our resturant is one of the top Chilis in Florida and we strive to keep it that way. We listen to the guests, serve the guests, make them comfortable, and make their time their an experice they can't forget. Chilis. Pepper in some fun.

Just to let everyone know. I am a former worker at chili's and it is god awful food. I was a cook and in that since I mean I can use a microwave. They now are going to have a BIN system which is just like the drawers at Mcdonalds that hold the nuggets and burger patties. So now most of the food will be precooked. Yeah it is fast but save your money and go to Mcdonalds or taco bell. It is pratically the same stuff. They overwork their employees and focus too much on little things instead of focusing on their guest. In this economic time save yourself the money and go eat fast food instead of chilis. You are paying more for the same thing. As a company they do give back to great organizations like St. Judes and their communities so it is not all bad. I respect them for that and for that I would eat there during their St. Jude promotion. I would just order a steak or something.

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