Sometimes, it stuns even someone as cynical as I am how befuddled large corporations can be. Case in point: Chili’s decision to close its Greenville Ave restaurant, the first of what are today 1,300 locations around the world and the flagship of the 1,800-restaurant Brinker chain.
Here’s an opportunity for Chili’s to get some good press, to celebrate the company’s success, to get nostalgic and generally look like good guys. It sure needs the boost — its profit has decreased by three-quarters in the past two years, while its stock price is near its 52-week low. So what does Chili’s do? It announces on Monday that it’s closing the store "based on a number of evaluative criteria" and says everything will be gone by noon today. So much for sentimentality. There isn’t even a press release on the company’s web site.
Because closing this location is a big deal, a real part of Dallas and neighborhood history. Anyone who was here when it opened in 1975 will tell you that the lines went around the building. It was a hip and trendy to eat at Chili’s, and founder Larry Lavine had devised a restaurant concept that had not really existed before.