Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Chili’s Is Not Closing All Restaurants. Here’s Why People Keep Sharing This False Rumor

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Chili’s Grill & Bar announced plans to close all restaurants in 2024.


A false rumor began circulating on social media in May 2024 claiming Chili’s Grill & Bar announced plans to close all restaurant locations. The rumor started after users misinterpreted a misleading headline featured in a syndicated news article published by the Taste of Country blog.

In an emailed response to Snopes, a spokesperson for Chili’s parent company, Brinker International, said in part the false rumor constituted “misinformation and mischaracterizations” about the state of its business. The spokesperson also mentioned an inaccuracy in the Taste of Country article, which we’ve noted with the company’s full statement later in this story.

Misleading News Headline About Chili’s

On May 9, the Taste of Country blog published an article with the headline, “Chili’s Is Shutting Doors Across America in 2024.” MSN.com, KXRB.com, KIXS.com, KOEL.com, DRGNews.com, 973TheDawg.com, CMG23.com and KYDNCountry.com also republished the same story. Some of these websites belong to radio stations featuring country music.

A false rumor circulated online with users claiming Chili's Grill & Bar was shutting down and closing all locations across America.For example, one X user shared the article from KOEL.com.

Under the story’s headline, the Taste of Country article simply revealed Chili’s purportedly closed at least three restaurants in the first four months of 2024. For perspective, the Brinker International spokesperson told us Chili’s has around 1,500 total restaurant locations.

The Taste of Country article named Fort Wayne, Indiana, St. Joseph, Missouri, and Charlotte, North Carolina, as the three cities where some Chili’s restaurants closed in 2024. However, this information was partially false. The Chili’s restaurant location in St. Joseph, Missouri, was still open as of May 15. The Chili’s restaurant in St. Joseph, Michigan, reportedly closed earlier in 2024. In other words, the reporting from Taste of Country mixed up two different towns named St. Joseph.

‘All Chili’s Restaurants Are Closing’

Numerous users on Facebook, Instagram and X shared the false rumor about Chili’s without reading through the full Taste of Country article. One Facebook user posted, “All Chili’s restaurants are closing. I don’t know how much more I can take. Please no calls during this difficult time. RIP 2 for $20.”

A false rumor circulated online with users claiming Chili's Grill & Bar was shutting down and closing all locations across America.

Some of the many posts spreading the false rumor included a screenshot of the original Taste of Country headline or the featured image from the article showing a red-colored “closing down” stamp with a photo of a Chili’s restaurant.

A false rumor circulated online with users claiming Chili's Grill & Bar was shutting down and closing all locations across America.

Full Company Statement

The spokesperson for Brinker International told Snopes in an email, “Recently, there have been several articles and social conversations that include misinformation and mischaracterizations about the state of our business. The fact is, Chili’s is outperforming the industry in both sales and traffic. Chili’s has guests lining up for our new Big Smasher Burger, which is an unbeatable value at $10.99 for the burger, fries, bottomless chips and salsa and a bottomless non-alcoholic drink on our ‘3 for Me’ menu.

“Being a heritage brand with more than 1,500 restaurants, it’s integral to regularly review the performance of our restaurants based on sales figures, shifting trade areas, lease agreements and other factors. At times, we need to make the tough decision to close one, which is not a negative indicator of our overall brand health.”

The spokesperson also noted the Taste of Country article’s inaccuracy involving the fact the Chili’s in St. Joseph, Missouri, was still open.

Positive Sales Numbers for Chili’s

The Taste of Country article failed to mention any of the positive information from Brinker International’s third quarter fiscal 2024 financial results, which the company spokesperson referenced in our email correspondence. Brinker International released its latest financial results on April 30 – just days before the publishing of the Taste of Country article.

Restaurant Business Magazine reported the positive news:

The turnaround at Chili’s Grill and Bar is real.

Changes at the 1,500-unit chain continued to pay off in owner Brinker International’s fiscal third quarter, when Chili’s outpaced the industry on both sales and traffic and saw bottom-line growth as well.

Same-store sales rose 3.5% in the quarter ended March 27 thanks to higher menu prices and dine-in traffic. And while traffic was still negative overall, it was 4% better than the industry average, CEO Kevin Hochman said during an earnings call Tuesday.

Delishably.com Article

One other headline may have added to some of the confusion regarding the false idea all Chili’s restaurants were closing.

On May 13, the Delishably.com blog published an article very similar to that of the Taste of Country story from just four days before. The article’s headline read, “Popular Restaurant Chain Closing Locations Across America and No One Saw It Coming.” One Facebook user’s post showed a photo of a Chili’s restaurant serving as the story’s featured image.

A false rumor circulated online with users claiming Chili's Grill & Bar was shutting down and closing all locations across America.

Like the Taste of Country story, the Delishably.com article wrongly claimed the St. Joseph, Missouri, Chili’s had closed and did not mention anything about Brinker International’s positive financial results for Chili’s published just two weeks prior. Further, the article included no external links directing readers to helpful information from outside sources.

Additional Notes

In our research, we noted at least two other Chili’s restaurants — in Irvine, California, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana — also reportedly closed in 2024. We called both restaurants by phone and confirmed they were not open during lunchtime on May 15.

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