Russian Market Getting Hotter with Chili’s Sizzle

Chili’s Grill & Bar sizzled in snow-covered Moscow’s hottest nightspot and historical city center, Novy Arbat, when the doors opened to the first Chili’s in Russia. The American brand that paved the way for casual dining chains as the restaurant industry grew in the United States, was welcomed in Russia with great fanfare, the company says.

Local residents and ex-pats alike embraced the flavors of the West surrounded by Chili’s iconic décor in the heart of Moscow. In comparison to Chili’s U.S. menus, the menu at the Novy Arbat restaurant offers a variety of pastas, a step-by-step guide on how to build a fajita and an expansive menu with premium spirits, which are available by the bottle and served tableside.

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These menu adaptations were based on Chili’s global chefs’ research of Russian lifestyles and local cuisine preferences.

In 2010, Chili’s parent-company, Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc., announced four target countries in which the casual dining leader would seek development of the brand – Brazil, Russia, India and China.

In addition to Russia, Chili’s currently serves up its famous fajitas at four restaurants in India and plans to open in Brazil later in the year. Brinker at present owns, operates and franchises more than 220 restaurants outside the U.S., with Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy locations in 30 additional countries and two territories.

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“Casual dining overseas is akin to the growth we saw 15 to 20 years ago here in the United States,” said Carin Stutz, president of global business development for Brinker International.

“Consumers in emerging countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China are highly focused on iconic brands and they buy accordingly, which gives Brinker a unique opportunity to expand the reach of our restaurants, connect with local consumers and drive loyalty to our brand.”

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Chili’s unique ambience and its famous Southwestern-inspired food became part of the local scene in Moscow, as crowds gathered to sample hand-shaken Presidente Margaritas and delicious fall-off-the-bone Baby Back Ribs at the VIP event, says the company.

More than 180 guests enjoyed the event, complete with a live band, karaoke contest and a cooking demo by Chili’s corporate chefs.

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The first Chili’s in Russia was developed by Russian franchisee Interdining Group, and as part of the agreement, 25 restaurants are slated for development in the Russian Federation by June 2017.

Interdining Group is a privately held company headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and formed by three business partners for the sole purpose of developing and operating Chili’s Grill & Bar in the Russian Federation.

The announcement was made Thursday, Feb. 24.

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Rakesh Raman