Get comfortable with casual dining
As the two-income family increased in Texas in the 1960s, as well as in the rest of the United States, people started eating out more. At the same time, they wanted something more than the fast food experience. One person saw this need and invented a new kind of restaurant that emphasized "casual dining."
That person was Norman Brinker.
Norman grew up learning how to make money. While only a first grader, young Brinker dreamed of owning a horse. His family couldn't afford one, so Norman earned the money himself by picking cotton, delivering papers, raising rabbits, and kenneling dogs. After a stint in the U.S. Navy, he paid his way through college by selling cutlery door to door. Although Norman grew up in various parts of the U.S., he soon learned the value of living in the Lone Star State.
With a knack for business already under his belt, he left college for a corporate job at Jack in the Box Restaurants, and played an important role in the expansion of the chain into Texas during the 1960s. However, he wanted to be his own boss. With grand aspirations, he opened Brink's Coffee Shop in Dallas, but it failed. Some people stop at failure, but Texans know that it sometimes takes more than one throw to rope a cash cow. Brinker learned from the experience and tried again.
The 1,000th Chili's restaurant, Dallas, 2005, located on
Cockrell Hill near Interstate 30. (Photo by author.)
After rethinking and studying the market, he conceived a new plan, and opened a restaurant in Dallas in 1966, based on an Olde English theme. Steak & Ale was an instant success. . .
Texas Tidbit: Allegedly, the dying words of American frontiersman Kit Carson were, "I wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili."
The story continues in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories...