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Our Commitment to Veterans: A Legacy that Endures

Our founder and namesake, Norman Brinker, learned many of his leadership skills in the early 1950’s when he proudly served in the U.S. Navy. Today, we continue to honor Norman’s memory and the hundreds of veterans who lead and work in our restaurants. Veterans leave an unforgettable mark on America and around the world, and our efforts are a small way to say “thank you” for their service.

 

Veteran Hiring: You had our back, now we have yours.

We believe that no one who fights for our country should have to fight for a job when they come home. That’s why we joined the Veteran Jobs Mission in April 2013 in its goal to hire one million U.S. military veterans. We deeply value the leadership and experience veterans bring to our ChiliHead family, and we do all we can to help these men and women transfer their skills from real-world situations into a successful restaurant career.

 

Veteran Partnerships: Together, we can make a difference.

We know that showing support goes much deeper than a complimentary meal on a single day, which is why, over the years, we’ve established ongoing partnerships with organizations that support veterans and their families across the communities where we live and work.

 

Walk of Gratitude for Snowball Express

Next month, we will once again partner with Snowball Express to support the Walk of Gratitude. The Walk of Gratitude is part of the largest annual gathering of the children and families of America’s fallen heroes. The mission of Snowball Express is simple, yet profoundly important: provide hope and create happy memories for the children of fallen military heroes who have died while on active duty since the September 11 attacks.

      

 

Wreaths Across America

Each December, Wreaths Across America remembers and honors our fallen heroes by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at more than 1,200 locations in the U.S., at sea, and abroad. Chili’s Team Members remember all those who have served our country by laying wreaths and honoring our heroes.

      

      

 

Feed Our Vets

We work with local chapters of Feed Our Vets on their mission to support veterans and their families whose circumstances have left them on the battlefield of hunger through the creation of community food pantries and by providing free food to veterans and their families. Last year, our partnership helped launch a new food pantry in Arkansas and provided more than 100,000 meals to veteran families.

      

 

The veterans in our workforce and in our communities mean everything to us. Their selfless sacrifices for our country inspire us to better serve our people and our communities. It’s our privilege to serve them and their families inside and outside of our restaurants.

 

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A Day in the Life of Amanda Stokes

We’ve been proud to call Amanda Stokes, Director of Operations, a ChiliHead for 18 years. She’s an amazing operator and an advocate for Chili’s Women Taking the Lead. But, Amanda is so much more than just a ChiliHead – she’s a CrossFit junkie, loving wife, and mom to three fur-babies. We’re continuing our #ChilisWTL series by asking Amanda how she balances her life in the Florida sun with the responsibilities of overseeing nine Chili’s restaurants.

Here’s a day in the life of Amanda Stokes:

 

4:00 A.M. The minute my alarm starts singing Empire State of Mind, our three dogs start licking my face to make sure that I’m waking up. My rescue pups, Craig, Murph, and Gringo, are NOT fans of the snooze button and ruin any chance I have of sleeping in! Getting dressed each morning is easy because I lay my gym clothes out each night before going to bed. I make a protein shake and head out the door to my 5:00 AM CrossFit class. It’s one of the best parts of my day because it’s just for me!

6:30 A.M. Once I get home from CrossFit, I take the dogs out to the yard and spend some quiet time on the back porch. I practice meditation and mindfully reflect on the things I’m grateful for. The sun rises and shines through the trees in the most beautiful way – it’s so peaceful! I enjoy a delicious breakfast that my husband cooks for me every day (I know – I’m a lucky girl!) before taking a bath and getting ready for the day while listening to the Amy Winehouse Pandora station.

8:00 A.M. I head into my home office and look at Chili’s restaurant results from the previous day. I plan my day around my calendar and work off a three-tier to-do list that’s constantly evolving: Must Do, Should Do, and Would Like To Do. I use my morning time to make calls to my restaurants and touch base with my team. I print any reports I’ll need for my daily restaurant visits and pack my work bag. It sounds organized, and it is! I’m not a natural planner, so I work hard to be organized.

10:00 A.M. It’s time to pack my lunch box for the day! I always like to have healthy food options with me so I make good choices throughout the day. I do meal prep every Sunday, so packing it up is super easy! Once I’m done in the kitchen, I head out for the day to visit one of my restaurants.

11:00 A.M. I spend the day with one of my restaurant teams and work a shift with them. I love meeting Guests, spending time with my teams, and having the opportunity to coach Managers and Team Members to help them be the best they can be – it truly feeds my soul. It’s important for me to be all-in during my visits, so I try not to use my phone. Sometimes it can’t be avoided as there are important things that come up that I need to attend to. This job is different every day and no two days are ever alike. It keeps me on my toes!

4:00 P.M. I’m such an extrovert that by 4:00 PM, I’m talked out and need to buy a vowel! After wrapping things up at the restaurant, I use my drive time home to return any phone calls I missed during the day. Once I’m home, I head back into my office to catch up on emails that came in during the day and look ahead on my calendar to prepare for the next day.

6:30 P.M. Being a ChiliHead for over 18 years has taught me the value of work-life balance, and I’ve learned the importance of it. My husband and I really love to sit down at the table and have dinner together each evening. It keeps us connected as we are both very busy during the day. This is our time! We try not to talk about work and just focus on being together.

8:00 P.M. We have a chaise lounge on the end of our sofa that I like to plant myself in each evening. Our three pups will pile on top of my legs, and my husband and I will watch an hour or so of TV. We don’t always agree on shows, but it’s nice to unwind and chill out together.

9:30 P.M. It’s a race to see who goes to bed first! Since my husband and I are both early risers, we’re practically falling asleep by 10:00 PM. We don’t have a TV in the bedroom, so when it’s time to go to sleep, it’s time to go to sleep. And I love to sleep! It’s so important. A good night’s rest gives me the energy I need to take on tomorrow.

 

Questions for Amanda:

What inspires you? I volunteer and am on the Board of Directors at Safe Animal Shelter in Middleburg, Florida. I’m so inspired by everyone who volunteers and works with us! 

How do you recharge? Spending time with like-minded people. I get my juice from others!

What do you do for fun? My husband and I live on a golf course, and we have lots of friends in the community! We love spending time with our neighbors and you can often find us at the community bar hanging out with friends.

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#ChilisLove Stands Strong through the Storm

It had a been a long week in Jacksonville, Florida when Sean O’Rourke, Assistant Manager, opened his Chili’s restaurant for the first time after Hurricane Irma whipped through the state. Every member of Sean’s team was impacted by the storm, and he was running with a skeleton crew because so many Team Members were evacuated, displaced, or without access to power and water.

Halfway through the shift, Sean was approached by two Servers asking about a mysterious deposit from Brinker International in their checking accounts. In true ChiliHead fashion, they honestly brought it to Sean’s attention thinking there was an error in Brinker’s payroll system.

“There must be a mistake! We already got paid.”

“There’s no mistake here,” Sean told them. “ChiliHeads have always taken care of us. Now it’s our turn to take care of you.”

This is one of many stories of #ChilisLove that we’ve seen coming back to headquarters. These stories give us purpose and hope because Chili’s has always been defined by our people. We come together and support one another – especially in times of need. It’s just who we are.

So, when we saw lives turned upside down by the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, our company came together to respond in the only way we knew how. We rallied to show #ChilisLove to over 10,000 Team Members impacted by the storms. We provided immediate financial assistance to over 425 Team Members through the Brinker Family Fund, released early paychecks to Team Members in impacted areas, provided relief payments as a gesture of support to Team Members working for closed restaurants, and donated $200,000 profits to impacted food banks. The Restaurant Support Center turned into a supply center, and we came together to create thousands of supply kits for Team Members in need.

Across Florida and Texas, our Managers have been bombarded with the same question from every Team Member. “But, why?” The answer is pretty simple. #ChilisLove

 “I’ve worked for Chili’s in Florida for 13 years. Tonight, I received my relief check for being closed during Irma. I want to express just how thankful and grateful I am to be a part of such an outstanding company. So from me and every other ChiliHead that’s receiving relief… Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” –Dana E.

“I would like to take a minute to put Brinker on BLAST! I am so grateful to work for such an amazing company! During this whole time, Brinker has taken such great care of us as employees. They deposited our checks early to make sure we had funds, texted us throughout the entire time to make sure we were safe, and today they went above and beyond. They paid all of us employees for our missed work time while the restaurants were closed! I have never heard of a company caring that much!” –Amanda L.

“All I can say is thank you. I’m so thankful, grateful and humbled by this. I cannot describe the feeling I have right now, but please know that a life has been touched and a teammate has truly been saved. Thank you. Thank you.” – Adam S.

We’re humbled by the hope and strength of our ChiliHeads. We’re proud to hear their stories. We’re a strong, united family, and when we come together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. The #ChilisLove speaks for itself.

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A Day in the Life of Suzie Tsai

Being a working mom is no joke! Just ask Chili’s Senior Marketing Director, Suzie Tsai. At home, Suzie and her husband, Denis, are rock-star parents to Sloane (7), Leelou (4), and Perry (3). Around the Brinker office, Suzie is notorious for her infectious laugh that can often be heard ringing through the halls of the Marketing Department. Suzie has an incredible way of blending her personal and professional life. She does it all, and she does it with a smile!

Here’s a day in the life of Suzie Tsai:

 

Brinker & Me:

Eleven years ago, my life changed for the better. I got married to my wonderful husband, Denis, and took a new job with Brinker International – it was a complete reset of my life! I love that my Brinker anniversary coincides with my wedding anniversary because Brinker has been such an important part of my story. I started a new family, and at the same time, Brinker became my family. As I look back at my journey over the past decade, I honestly don’t think that I could have grown my family in the way that I have without Brinker. It might sound crazy, but being a working mom has made me a better mom and a better worker, too.

Morning Routine:

If I don’t work out in the morning, there won’t be time for it later in the day. So, Denis wakes me up at 6:00 AM three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday) for a high-cardio workout routine. He keeps me accountable by dragging me out of bed each morning. On our rest days, our kids act as human alarm clocks! Our youngest and only son, Perry, runs into our room, jumps in our bed, and is closely followed by his sister, Leelou. Our oldest daughter, Sloane (we call her “the teenager” even though she’s 7 years old), doesn’t get up until someone wakes her up, so we usually pull her out of bed around 7:00 AM. Once everyone is awake, it’s a mad rush to get the kids ready for school before we’re out the door at 8:15 AM. Leelou and Perry attend a bilingual Chinese school that teaches the behaviors and lifestyles Denis and I grew up with in our Korean and Chinese backgrounds, and Sloane is in elementary school. Denis and I take turns driving and picking up kids from school each day.

Work Day:

I love walking into the office each morning because my hands are finally free! The work day is a working mom’s escape.  I sit down at my desk around 8:45 AM, and Suzie time begins. My day is dictated by my calendar – open it up, and all you’ll see is meetings. I’m booked solid for the next month! My calendar paints a picture of my life and is layered with both work and family stuff. It keeps me balanced. I even have my team’s stuff on my calendar! I love knowing where everyone is at and where everyone is going. It helps me work and connect with my team better. While I spend a lot of time meeting with people at Chili’s, I also spend a lot of time with our marketing agency partners. I love their creative energy and am grateful for the way they bring creative visions to life.

I’m here to make my team’s life easier – that’s my management philosophy! People don’t quit on a job, they quit on a boss. So, I value and put time into my work relationships. My team is almost all women – they’re like my sisters! So, whether we’re talking about work stuff or just catching up, it’s always a fun chat. Since my schedule is always so packed with meetings, I use my lunch time and drive time for 1x1s with my team. I like to have lunch with my husband sometimes, too. But, we have to book it! If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.

Even though my schedule is always busy, I make time each month to volunteer at Sloane’s school to read with her class. I love this time because I get to see her in action and observe her progress first-hand. It gives me context around her educational development and provides an opportunity to get personalized feedback from her teachers.

Evenings at Home:

I call my mom every night on my way home from work to check-in and catch up on life. Whether we have 5, 15, or 50 minutes to chat, it’s always special time. I’m usually home around 6:30 PM and head straight for the kitchen! I cook dinner for the family three or four times a week. I just want the kids to be happy, so we eat a lot of dinosaur nuggets and frozen corn dogs. But, I’ll also make my favorite Asian dishes, spaghetti, or Denis will throw something on the grill.

After dinner, Denis and I will help with homework, play, or watch some TV with the kids before marching them to bed. It’s lights out for Sloane, Leelou, and Perry at 9:00 PM! They all share a bedroom, so we’ll usually hear giggles for about 30-minutes before they drift to sleep. After the kids are in bed, Denis and I will clean up, do the dishes, and run a couple loads of laundry. To make sure that I’m up at 6:00 AM, I know I have to go to bed at 11:00 PM. So, I have an App on my phone that rings at 10:30 PM every night to remind me to go to bed! Silly as it sounds, it’s easy to forget that you need sleep, too, when you spend your days chasing after three tiny humans. Once my head hits the pillow, I pass out and get a little rest before we do it all again.

Weekends:

Denis and I LOVE Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley, but we hardly ever have time to watch them. So, sometimes we’ll wake up early on a Saturday morning to binge watch a few episodes before jumping into the day’s activities. Our weekends are usually full of soccer games, kids’ activities, and school. (Sloane attends a Chinese Language School every Sunday.) Sometimes Denis and I will drop the kids off at my mom’s house and go see a movie – she helps keep us sane! I’m lucky to have family in Dallas. It gives me a support network and truly helps me survive being a working mom. The weekends are hard. Monday is the routine. So, after working through a weekend of crazy, I’m always grateful to return to my desk every Monday morning.

 

Questions for Suzie:

What inspires you?  My mom is my biggest inspiration. She was a working mom like me and is always positive and happy! And my husband, Denis, he’s the smartest guy I know who’s always up on the latest technology, current affairs, and politics – he keeps me up-to-date and in-the-know while providing unconditional love for me and the kids.  My mom and Denis make me a better person.

What’s your guilty pleasure?  Wine! I love it. I’m a Pinot Noir kind of gal! I don’t get to have a glass too often because I’m too tired and have to wake up early every day. But, when I get to have a glass, it is wonderful!

What’s the last game you played?  Shopkins Go Fish! It’s one of the kids’ favorites.

When’s the last time you said, “I love you?”  This morning to my husband and kids! We say it every day.  Sometimes I yell out to Sloane from the car window when I drop her off at school. She’s still at the age where it’s cool to love your mom!

When’s the last time you danced?  At Luz’s (Chili’s Social Media Manager) wedding! It was so much fun – we were dancing all night long!

When’s the last time you cried?  Again, at Luz’s wedding when she had her father-daughter dance. It reminded me of my father-daughter dance at my wedding and all the wonderful, happy memories that I have of my dad.

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A Day in the Life of Kelli Valade

The ChilisJobs team is kicking off our #ChilisWTL series by getting a look inside the life of our very own President, Kelli Valade. Kelli has two kids (Morgan and Christian), a pretty awesome husband (Don), a crazy golden doodle (Lucy), and a really busy career. How does she do it all? You’re about to find out.

Here’s a day in the life of Kelli Valade:

 

5:30 AM: My husband, Don, is usually up and out the door by 5:00 AM. But, you’ll find me hitting the snooze button until the last possible second! I love my sleep and work hard to get seven to eight hours every night. Once I’m out of bed, I take a minute to check emails before getting ready for the day. Lucy, our crazy golden doodle, loves to get ready with me and usually wakes up as soon as my feet hit the floor. I love the way she follows me around each morning!

6:15 AM – 7:45 AM: It’s time to wake up my son, Christian, and make him breakfast! Lucy never forgets to remind me that she wants her breakfast, too. My daughter, Morgan, is in High School and has an extra hour to sleep in the mornings – so, we let her. Once breakfast is made, lunches are packed, and we’re ready for the day! Christian and I are out the door by 7:00 AM. By 7:45 AM, Christian is at school, and I’m on my way to the office. My commute takes an hour every morning, but I could never give up the quality time I get with my son.

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM: Upon arriving at work, I make a cup of green tea, read the morning RPM (sales and labor) reports, and review the day’s schedule. I love walking into my office each morning! It’s warm and inviting – not your traditional corporate office. I want people to feel welcome when they walk in. So, I have a farm table instead of a traditional office table and have filled the room with things that inspire me like books, family photos, and a memory book – a cherished gift I received from the Chili’s team!

9:00 AM – 12:00 PM: I usually spend my morning in meetings. Of the many people I talk with each week, I especially look forward to meeting with the Culinary Council. The leadership and culinary teams come together to decide on menu items for our restaurants – sometimes a year in advance! We get to try new recipes, give feedback, and talk with our Team Members and Guests to ensure we’re making the best choices for the brand.

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: If I’m not visiting a Chili’s location for lunch, I’m most likely eating a prepared meal from Snap Kitchen – I have a refrigerator full of them! They’re healthy and easy to eat on-the-go.

2:00 PM – 5:00 PM: When I have time between afternoon meetings, I love to catch up with folks around the office. A lot of Team Members have white boards outside their desks, and they’ll write fun facts or activities they have planned. I love reading them as I walk through the halls – it helps me learn what’s going on and have conversations that have nothing to do with work. I learn something new about someone every day, and I love it!

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM: Before wrapping up the day around 5:30 or 6:00 PM, I make a few last phone calls and look over my notes from the day. Then I grab a few Post-its, hop in my car, and finish the day with a conference call. (Bluetooth is a god-send!) My drive home is easily filled 90% of the time, and I’m grateful for the extra hour to finish work. Once I finish my last call, I decompress – usually by blasting some music! I love Donna Summer and classic 70s hits.

 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM: By the time I get home, everyone has already eaten. I get comfortable, grab dinner (and sometimes a glass of wine!), and sit with Morgan, Christian, and Don to help with homework or just hangout. I love this time together because we get to talk and catch up. Once homework is done, I take turns with Morgan and Christian, and we go for a walk or run. This gives me personal time to catch up with each of them, and I get my steps in for the day which is how I squeeze in my WellBeing. Cardio and yoga are important to me and doing them with my kids is awesome!

8:30 PM – 9:30 PM: We like to watch a TV show as a family, and we usually turn on something like Gotham, Modern Family, or my new obsession, This Is Us. Then we all go upstairs and start to wind down. Even though my kids are 16 and 14, I still tuck in Morgan and Christian every night – it’s my favorite part of the day.

10:00 PM: I check emails and texts one last time and answer anything urgent. Then it’s time for bed! I usually put on Friends until I doze off. I don’t sleep with my phone in my bedroom – it charges in the kitchen while I get some undisturbed z’s.   

Travel Days: Twice a month, I’m on the road visiting a market, checking out restaurants, and recognizing teams for the amazing work they’re doing. These days typically look a bit different because I’m at a Chili’s location Playing Restaurant! I help set up for the day, coach our teams, and, most importantly, talk to our ChiliHeads and Guests. I love when I have the opportunity to welcome and seat parties, bus tables, and take orders. I’m pretty good at selling our Margaritas! (But, in all honesty – they really sell themselves.)

I almost always host a Town Hall meeting or Women Taking the Lead session when I’m out in the field. I love connecting with our teams, getting their feedback, and engaging Team Members with our big-picture strategy. Spending time in our restaurants with ChiliHeads and Guests is one of my favorite things to do – it’s rewarding and inspires me to work harder when I’m back in the office.

Weekends: The weekends are for family time! You’ll find me in yoga pants and a hoodie while I’m running between yoga class and Morgan and Christian’s activities. We always eat dinner as a family on Sunday nights. I love to cook, and Italian dishes are my specialty! After dinner, we call a ‘Sunday Night Meeting’ to talk about the week ahead. We coordinate schedules and Morgan and Christian will tell us what they need help with – practices, games, lessons, and other activities. Don and I also use this time to ask our kids what’s on their minds. It’s a good way for us to listen to and support each other. Morgan and Christian are great at leading these meetings, and it prepares us all for the week ahead.

 

 

 

More fun facts about Kelli:

What inspires me: Seeing the good around us.

Last guilty pleasure: I was at a pizza party a couple of weeks ago and had four huge slices of pizza. And yes – it was amazing!

Last game I played: I play a trivia game with Christian on an App called Trivia Crack. Needless to say, he is winning.

Last time I said “I Love You”: Every day. At least 5-6 times to my kids.

Last time I danced: In the kitchen with Morgan and Christian! Have you ever tried doing the ‘The Dab’? It’s definitely entertaining!

Last time I cried: Last Tuesday during This Is Us. I cry during every single episode!

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Bring Your Whole Self to Work

Odds are you don’t spend much of your time diving into the decades of research attributed to the study of management. The very idea of management dates back hundreds of years—to the early 1800’s when the world (and America specifically) was growing at a rapid pace. Imagine the challenges of running the Burlington Railroad in the late 1800’s and trying to communicate to steel workers all across America…via telegraph.

The concept that employees were social creatures didn’t enter management theory until the 1930’s. A series of research studies called the Hawthorne Experiments, lead by Elton Mayo, discovered that employee productivity changed based on the lights being brighter or darker—but no one knew why. Mayo concluded that lighting had nothing to do with it, but instead the group’s productivity increased because they felt special and were closely connected socially. The study concluded that employees have social needs as well as physical needs, and managers need a mix of managerial skills that include human relations skills.

It seems simple and so obvious in today’s world, but was pioneering research back then. These days work is just…well…different. We talk about being overwhelmed and inundated by emails, being micromanaged by crazy bosses, being surrounded by co-workers that just don’t care, and being confused by company strategy or direction. We want to do work that matters, working for companies that do more than just turn a profit.

That’s why we’re finally lightening up a little around #TodaysChilis. We’re talking more about what really matters—what matters to our own people and to those looking for great jobs, or even better careers. We’re celebrating the unique differences that make us special, and we’re acknowledging that we all bring a mix of both “work” and “personal” with us wherever we go. And the idea didn’t come from leadership—it came from right within our four walls. It came from people like Tyler, who challenged us to think differently about our stance on tattoos in the workplace. For years we asked ChiliHeads to cover them up, until great people like Tyler had us look in the mirror.

I know that tattoos have all kinds of meaning and get different perceptions, however my tattoos tell the story of my life and they are something that I am either glad I’ve overcome, glad I experienced, or someone I never want to forget. With as many tattoos as I have I am still extremely picky by what I see also. Thoughtless or offensive tattoos affect me in the same way that it would affect someone who has none. I have taken the time to carefully decide what I have put on my body, and I am proud to share them with the world. For the longest time I didn’t want to talk about my little brother passing away, and because of that I never coped with it. I got my tattoo for him because I knew that I would get asked questions about it and asked why I got it, and that would open the door for conversation surrounding the worst event I’ve experienced in my life. By doing so I was able to deal with the emotion and come to the realization that my little brother will be gone forever, and that instead of hanging onto that I need to continue to push forward and live the life he set out to live but was never able to achieve.

This is just one of the many stories my tattoos tell, but overall they are ME. And I am proud to be who I am now having gone through the experiences my tattoos outline. I wouldn’t be who I am without these experiences, these are what made me. And while it might seem silly to some, they are extremely important to me. And in a way they tie me to this brand as well. My brother passed away as a ChiliHead and this brand and the Brinker Family Fund stepped in to relieve my parents of the financial burden they had while burying their son. This is the single most powerful force connecting me to this brand and its success.

I just wanted to try and help others with understanding that to me these tattoos are not just tattoos. They outline who I am, who I have become, and ultimately who I will be in the future. They are EXTREMELY important to me, and I don’t regret any of them. We are still individuals who come together for this brand, for the people, and the experiences we create for team members and guests, just like anyone else who doesn’t have any. There is nothing I want more than the success of my restaurant and this brand. And if I can do so while pursuing equality for tattoos in the workplace then that’s even better. In the end I’m very grateful for everything you’ve done for me. What you have done for me has truly shown me that passion that Chilis is all about. You have made me feel special for being who I am, and what I’ve done for the brand by being that person.  

Tyler’s story inspired us all…including our President, Kelli Valade:

I hope by now you know the story. The story of an idea to be different—to create something special and unique. The year was 1975. In the early days, those few and proud ChiliHeads called themselves the Hamburger Hippies and they were known for taking work seriously and taking themselves far less than serious. It was a very different time—an era marked by war, civil unrest, womens rights, gay rights and an explosion of new music, art and inspiration. People pushed back against mainstream social norms. And out of those crazy times and unrest, a bar and grill popped up called Chili’s.

Along the way, the idea took off and the company grew. The rebelliousness of the 70’s gave way to new generations that wanted more calm in their world. Our Guests evolved too, and sure—maybe we got a little more risk averse and cautious. We mirrored what we saw in the world. Being edgy and pushing the envelope didn’t always sync up with being one of the worlds most recognized brands. For many, tattoos were taboo. Too much. Too edgy. And maybe just a little too off-putting. At some point we asked you to cover up, and for years many of you wore long sleeve shirts to avoid the possibility of frustrated or dissatisfied Guests.

Times have changed. I get it. For many a tattoo is a constant reminder of a crazy weekend in Vegas. For others, a tattoo on a finger replaces the tradition of a wedding band. Some mark a milestone, others honor someone lost, many define who we are at certain points in our life. But, regardless the purpose, the stigma of tattoos has begun to fade away as we see them filtered through a lens of many decades.

I have heard from so many of you asking for understanding, including the amazing story of Tyler who allowed us to share his story with you. I want nothing but the best life for him and for every one of you. And, I want this company to stand for values that are relevant and meaningful in this crazy world we live in. So today I’m happy to share that we’re changing. We’re evolving and learning and growing. Beginning today, we’re removing the restriction on visible tattoos. However, we ask that you understand professionalism and excellence is still top of mind–our Guests beliefs still matter.

It’s so important to remember that what we ask of you is what we ask of everyone including myself, to truly connect with Guests and team alike. Your personality and character will draw people in—not your tattoos. Your image is a by-product of so much more than the clothes you wear or the ink on your body–it’s a function of who you are when no one is looking. Be real, be genuine, be connected.

It takes courage to become who you really are. You inspired us to dream bigger. You inspired us to be brave. Now, we go forward with the belief that we are not defined by the color of our skin, the person we love, or the ink on our arm. Be yourself. We’ll be right here beside you.

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Being a ChiliHead means…

Being a ChiliHead is more than just a job – it’s a lifestyle. It’s living our Purpose each and every day; whether that’s in the restaurants or in your everyday activity. The stories we hear every day from our Team Members inspire us to do better. During this time of gratitude and love, we want to give you an inside look at what being a ChiliHead is all about. The stories below will give you a small glimpse of how we connect, serve and give to create the best life.

 

Meet Christina, a Team Member from Gainesville, Florida who showed true bravery after finishing her shift at #TodaysChilis.

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“Christina was on her way home from her shift when a car veered across her car and ended in a pond. She quickly got out of her car to assist the lady only to find a child in the back seat. She swam out and retrieved the child and brought her to the shore and safety. She then swam back out to attempt to get the mother out. She was pinned in there by her seat belt. By that time the FD arrived and was able to get her to safety. While that was going on, Christina was comforting the child until she could be reunited with her mother. What an act of bravery” –Tony Devescovi, Area Director.

 

Meet Alicia & Team Kahala from Hawaii – this team went out of their way to make a difference for their community. 

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“Alicia, a Team Member from Hawaii, and the team in Kahala volunteered their time to give back to their community. They served lunch to the under privileged at one of our local shelters in their free time. So proud of this team for taking the challenge and getting involved in making a difference in other’s lives! By giving their time, they helped create the best life for those in need and I’m sure they felt a connection and a greater sense of purpose that we all can be a part of. Community is contagious – pass it on!” – Jeffrey Mews, Area Director

 

Meet Team Concord from California – this team is involved with their local special needs program and gives back to their community by employing young adults with disabilities. 

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“The team has been a long time member of their community engaging with programs such as Workability. The Workability program allows young adults with disabilities to gain work experience outside of their education and acquire essential workplace skills to find a career path. Omar Gomez came to us from Workability 6 years ago – or as he will share – 6 years 10 months and 10 days. Omar is deaf but that doesn’t break his spirit. After working in Chili’s as a student, Omar was hired to join the Chili’s team as a member of our Heart of House. Omar has a smile on his face every day, works tremendously hard and wears his heart on his sleeve. What makes us the most proud of Omar, is his level of engagement with his team and his peers, always hopping in where he is needed and being the beacon of positive attitude. Omar communicates with his team through a few applications on his phone and because of programs such as Workabilty, we are fortunate to meet people like Omar and have them join our Chili’s family! ” – Justin Cates, Area Director

 

These are few of many stories to how we connect, serve and give to create the best life for our Teams and our Guests. Now – it’s your turn! How are you planning to connect, serve and give to create a best life for yourself and those around you this holiday season?

Happy holidays from the ChilisJobs team!

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Giving to St. Jude

It all started in 2002 when our restaurants in Memphis, Tennessee came together to support their local hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The passion of our Memphis ChiliHeads filled the entire brand. What started as a local, grass roots give back turned into a committed and long lasting partnership between Chili’s and St. Jude. We made a $50 million dollar commitment and year after year, Team Members and Guests rallied to support St. Jude’s mission – and it has made a tremendous impact. To date, we have raised more than $58 million for patients and families.

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And it doesn’t stop there!  This year marks our 14 year partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To celebrate, we have made our second commitment to support St. Jude’s mission of Finding cures. Saving children®.  To kick off our annual #CreateAPepper campaign, we have made a $30 million promise to enhance the work of the St. Jude Program for patients.

This new commitment means Team Members and Guests can support the work of St. Jude to treat the whole child by helping to meet the educational needs of their patients. The St. Jude School Program gives patients a way to focus on the future and keep up with schoolwork during their stay at the hospital – whether staying for a few months or years. For children who are put into an unfamiliar hospital environment, school provides a regular routine, feeling of control and sense of normalcy.

All September long, Team Members and Guests will be rallying during our annual #CreateAPepper campaign to not only raise donations but to also create awareness that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Together with our Guests, we will celebrate our new commitment and continue to live out our purpose to connect, serve and give while supporting a cause that is so near and dear to our hearts. ❤

#CreateAPepper

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What’s a Dream Job Anyway?

College can be stressful enough on its own, especially when you add the stress of having to find a job after you graduate. For some, jobs are ready and lined up by the time the  cap and tassel go flying into the air. For others, a long time may pass before you finally land that “dream job”. But what’s a dream job anyway? For this Chilihead, figuring it out was harder than she thought. Sarah worked at Chili’s for over 5 years and was about to graduate. And that’s when she had to make one of the biggest decisions of her life. Check out Sarah’s story…

It was my last semester in college when the reoccurring nightmares began. No, not your typical, “oh my gosh! I’m graduating in a few months!” kind of nightmares, but dreams where I would wake up with a sick feeling in my stomach – realizing the day where I had to quit my job was quickly approaching. My dreams were all fairly similar. In the middle of all the chaos, I had to quit. I didn’t want to. But I walked away from my team anyways, knowing that I was going to miss them terribly and get a sad feeling every time they post a work selfie or a video of one of our managers dancing on social media.

I did a lot of serious thinking over the next few months. I had to figure out why I didn’t want to leave and how to make this pit in my stomach go away. I had worked at Allen Park Chili’s for over five years. Was I too attached to my coworkers? Was I afraid to leave my comfort zone? Was I not ready to graduate and join the “real world?” Luckily, I had to complete 1200 internship hours through my college program. This allowed me to “sample” different jobs, companies, and cultures. After sitting down with my General Manager Partner, Micky Frank, for about two hours, comparing what I liked and didn’t like in my internships with my experiences with Chili’s, I realized why I didn’t want to leave. I loved the culture of the company. I knew it wasn’t something that just existed at Allen Park, either. I had worked in other restaurants, observed other teams at our yearly softball tournament, but most importantly, I had gotten a glimpse of what other restaurants were doing across the country through Twitter. This is when I realized that culture was very important to me.

My GMP and I also spent some time talking about leadership. Food service management in the healthcare industry had been my original plan, but I explained to him that I couldn’t see myself being happy or successful. To be successful, I needed a place where I could be hands on, express my passion, and feel like I could be myself. I needed to work for a company that inspired me, so that I could inspire others. Chili’s was perfect for this. Between sharing heartwarming stories on twitter, to opening up discussions through Women Taking the Lead, to promoting wellbeing, Chili’s has truly created an incredible culture and support system. I believe this culture has shaped some wonderful leaders, and when I think about the kind of leader I want to become, I think of many leaders I have met within this company at all different levels. I want to make people feel special, like they have done. I want to help others become the best version of themselves, like they have done. I want to lead with my heart, like they have done.

I told Micky I wanted to take the summer off to make a decision about my life. I really wanted to go into management at Chili’s, but I had put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into my college degree. I wanted to make sure whatever decision I made was the right decision. This lasted all of about four weeks! After going back to work full time after graduation, I made my announcement that I wanted to stay with Chili’s and now I am so excited to #ChilisGrow!

-Sarah Partch

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Nick’s Physical Wellbeing Journey

We’ve all done it. We get so caught up in our everyday routine that we forget to truly take care of ourselves. Life gets the best of us and we use it as an excuse to not focus on our wellbeing. As we juggle more, take on more responsibility at work and home, and try to manage life in a constant stream of distractions and information coming at us; it becomes more important than ever to make time for numero uno. But we shouldn’t let that get in the way. Sometimes all we need is a little motivation. We’re honored to share the very personal journey of Nick Sickler, a ChiliHead who let life get in the way of being physically active. Nick found the motivation he was looking for and managed to turn his life around with the support of his wife, a community of peeps at boot camp/cross fit, and a team of 55,000 other ChiliHeads focusing on their wellbeing! Check out Nick’s story:

I was very lucky growing up with a loving mother, SO loving that she always wanted to do things for me….especially FEED me! Growing up I didn’t eat the healthiest of meals and there was always something in front of us to snack on, or a ‘feel good’ kind of meal. Luckily, I was always in some sort of sport growing up, pretty much year round. As I grew older, some of the baby fat shed away and by high school I had gotten into lifting for sports. I had my weight pretty under control and was very active in football and baseball. After high school I continued to work out and controlled my weight all while having a loose lifestyle of late nights and fast food… Ahhhh to be young again! Not to mention, starting a career in the restaurant business! FOOD.

Years later I met my beautiful wife Kelli. While we were dating I continued to stay active at a gym. It was not until Kelli was pregnant with our first, Olivia, that I started to pack on the pounds. I couldn’t let her eat all those cravings alone, right? Ha! I put on about 25 lbs. in 9 months. Then all of a sudden it became extremely hard to lose weight. The daily responsibilities of being a new father and working full time were new to me and life started to take control and get the best of me. Work was stressful and rest at home was few and far between.

After about 6 months we started to gain back some structure and control. Just a few short months later we found out Kelli was pregnant again and along came Bella. This time it was different than the first round, a new challenge with a newborn and an active toddler. Over next several years I battled with making time to get back to an active lifestyle and became more of a weekend warrior. My priorities became my career and family and I was not focused on taking care of myself for long term health. I was playing the roller coaster weight game throughout the years and never made it back to my pre-weight of before kids.

Life changed again with a move to Texas! We relocated the family to San Antonio for a job promotion and to start the next chapter in our journey of life in 2013. I can truly say I am very glad we did! I was buried in work taking on a new position but loving the challenge. The girls were making friends quickly at school, and we couldn’t have been luckier to land in our neighborhood. Kelli met a friend by the name of Amy Craft.  They started actively going to boot camp and after a month of her attending, I finally gave in and went myself. I had done nothing active for quite some time and it was the WORST experience I had ever had! I think we did like 500 burpees that day, of course it was probably only 20, but felt like 500 because I couldn’t move for an entire week. That was that. I never wanted to go back. I buried myself back in work and used it as an excuse not to go. An entire year went by before I went back, this time I had a better mind set about it and little more motivation, due to recently being diagnosed with high blood pressure. I went consistently 3-5 times a week for about two months. I saw some results but very minimal on the scale. I got a little frustrated and at the same time it was the end of our fiscal year at work which meant a huge work load with wrapping the end of the year up. With both of those working against me, I went back to burying myself in work.

Things in Texas were going great with my family although something was missing. No matter how hard I worked or how hard I tried doing things for others I just could not seem to find a happy structure. I wasn’t happy with myself. About the same time, Chili’s started focusing on our Team Member’s wellbeing. We did some deep dives into what makes life more fulfilling. Gallup research has shown that if you strive in 3 out of the 5 elements of wellbeing you tend to live a very happy, productive life in and out of work. The 5 Essential Elements of Wellbeing are Financial, Career, Community, Social and Physical. I couldn’t believe it… I had 3 of the 5 staring me in the face this entire time and I was too bull headed to realize it. The Social, Community and of course the Physical wellbeing had all been offered to me this entire time, just by joining such a great group at boot camp/cross fit. I have never been happier here in San Antonio than I have been in the last 5 months. What I was missing this entire time was making sure I focused on myself, staying healthy and clear headed every day. This has actually made it easier to take care of those that rely on me, with family being top of that list. I have some physical goals I am trying to accomplish by the end of the year that I will continue to pursue, but so far over the last 5 months I have lost almost 30 lbs. and have lowered my blood pressure to normal range.

I owe a lot of this to my wife Kelli for continuing to give me her support and pushing me to be a better person. I also wanted to give some props to my boss, Bobby the J. He has done nothing but been supportive in my journey to get healthy, and he plays a crucial role in my life. I ask God daily to give me the strength to help and lead those that I am responsible for at work and at home. We are so appreciative to have such great people in our lives that inspire us to be better each and every day. My journey will continue for ME and my family….and what a great thing to set a standard for our girls to make fitness and health a priority in life!

The journey continues…

Nick Sickler