OBIT: Norman Brinker, 78, restaurant mogul who popularized salad barNorman Brinker, a restaurant mogul who popularized the salad bar and built a worldwide casual dining empire that includes Chili's Grill & Bar, died Tuesday.
By: Associated Press,
DALLAS — Norman Brinker, a restaurant mogul who popularized the salad bar and built a worldwide casual dining empire that includes Chili's Grill & Bar, died Tuesday. He was 78.
He died in a Colorado hospital after suffering complications related to pneumonia while on vacation, Brinker International Inc. spokeswoman Stacey Sullivan said.
Before retiring as chairman of Dallas-based Brinker International in 2000, he had built the chain of more than 1,000 casual-dining restaurants. The company now has 1,700 restaurants in 27 countries, according to its Web site.
Brinker moved to Dallas in the 1960s and started a coffee shop before developing the concept for Steak & Ale restaurants in the mid-1960s. The chain popularized the salad bar.
He sold Steak & Ale to Pillsbury Co. in the early 1970s and went to work for Pillsbury's restaurant division. During his time there, he created the Bennigan's chain of upscale eateries.
In 1983, Brinker purchased Chili's, which had begun with a single restaurant in Dallas in 1975. He eventually took the company public and renamed it Brinker International.