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For Find Out Friday Week 6- The Hamburger Hippies Behind Chili’s Restaurants

Have you seen this commercial for Chili’s?

I found it very informative. I love when I can learn something in sixty seconds or less.

I would have never wondered how Chili’s came to be but since they aired that commercial I wanted to know more. There is no better time to dive into a topic like this other than Find Out Friday!

I love Chili’s. I wish there were one right by my house. Sure we have Applebee’s, TGIF Fridays, and the like but no other restaurant in this category holds a candle to Chili’s. I love Mexican food and I love the choices they provide. They make great appetizers and cocktails too. One of those gigantic frozen drinks sounds like a little piece of heaven to me right now. Plus they are affordable. It is the perfect place for girl’s night out or an easy family dinner.

The Chili’s commercial inspired me to do some digging and thankfully there was lots of information (see Snapple blog) on the other side waiting for me. Owner, Larry Lavine opened his first restaurant in March of 1975 in Dallas, Texas. It was an immediate success setting the bar for a whole new type of eatery. The Texas connection would come into play and be present on the menu creating that Tex-Mex flare that I love so much.

Chili’s has always been an innovator and remains ahead of its competitors. First it was their infamous  “I want my Baby Back” ribs jungle created back in 1986. It was used again in 1999 during “Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me”, forever cementing it into pop culture.

Their first television commercial debuted in 1984 announcing, fajitas, which was partially like a new food group for America or at least in its restaurants. On a personal note I had my first fajita in the early 1990s from McDonald’s and I thought it was the shit. Nowadays Chili’s is my preferred brand; after all I am classy now.

Nowadays there are tablets on every table to place orders, pay the bill, and for children to play games in lieu of the coloring paper menus kids of my generation did. You will see these tablets all around now but Chili’s did it first.

According to legend there is one upside down picture in EVERY single Chili’s, and no it’s not the same.

“Each sign is painted in red and green and hung upside down. The tradition looks to have influences of Chinese culture as the Chinese word for 'arrive' rhymes with the word for 'upside down'. The upside down picture symbolizes that good luck will arrive and it's a subtle way that Chili's is greeting all those that arrive at its locations.”

Now I will have to be on the lookout.

Despite all of the cool facts I learned about Chili’s, my favorite thing I learned from my investigation was their connection to St. Jude. My adoration for St. Jude ( consists of many levels. It’s the work they do, the way Marlo Thomas ( and fellow celebrities give, but most importantly that founder Danny Thomas created a financially free zone for children who have cancer. It’s really all in their motto: “No Child Should Die In the Dawn of Life.” If I weren’t a fan before this would have been the clincher.

In 2002 Chili’s began their relationship with St. Jude through their Memphis restaurants with a coloring sheet promotion that ultimately raised $14,000. Additionally Chili’s supports National Childhood Cancer Awareness month (each September) since 2004.

By 2006 Chili’s pledged a fifty million dollar donation to be delivered throughout the next ten years. But for Chili’s they finished first again, completing that promise in 2013, three years ahead of schedule. This stands out as the largest single corporate donation that St. Jude’s or any other hospital has been granted.

As if that fifty million dollars wasn’t enough, Chili’s went one-step further- this is the part that made me weak in the knees. In November 2007 “The Chili’s Care Center” opened in St. Jude hospital and is the only one of its kind. Their generosity seems endless.

I love when big business acts like a loving individual. It makes me proud to be a patron and provides an urge to choose Chili’s over others when the opportunity presents itself.

I know consider myself an honorary Hamburger Hippie. 

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