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Chili’s Is Axing 40 Percent of Its Massively Bloated Menu

The struggling mid-level chain is going back to basics

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The exterior of a Chili’s restaurant Mike Mozart/Flickr

It’s no secret that mid-level chain restaurants are having a rough go of things lately. As diners are increasingly choosing faster, cheaper fast-casual restaurants or opting to cook at home (meal kits, anyone?), once-thriving restaurants like Chili’s are reevaluating their business in an attempt to stay relevant. Chili’s latest move is an attempt to get back to basics by nixing 50 items from its menu, the Street reports.

Chili’s menu became massively bloated in recent years as the chain attempted to keep up with food trends and offer something for everyone — something the company readily admits in a press release, saying, “Over the years, like many bar and grill chains, Chili's chased consumer trends, expanded the menu and tried to be all things to all guests, therefore compromising execution and resulting in a fuzzy food reputation.”

Founded in Dallas in 1975, the OG Chili’s menu focused on chili, burgers, and margaritas. Today it has more than 1,500 locations with a gigantic menu including more than 125 items. The shrunken menu goes into effect September 18; though the company hasn’t yet revealed which items are going away, it’s a fairly safe bet that most or all of the following dishes probably won’t make the cut:

Fresh Mex Bowls (Chipotle-esque rice bowls with various toppings)
Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers and Waffles
Mexican-style street corn
Crispy Cheddar Bites (fried cheese curds)
Buffalo Fried Cauliflower
Crispy Asparagus
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Quesadilla Explosion Salad
Loaded Boneless Wings
California Grilled Chicken Flatbread

The chain also says it’s investing millions of dollars to improve the quality of its core menu items — namely burgers, ribs, and fajitas. Will concentrating its efforts on serving fewer, better menu items help save Chili’s from declining sales in a way that its efforts to make its food more “Instagram-friendly” couldn’t?

Chili’s Growth Means Getting Smaller [Press Release]
Chili’s Fights to Make Its Menu More Instagram-Friendly [E]