Brinker International

The restaurant chain committed to training 250 apprentices.

Chili’s and National Restaurant Association Launch Apprenticeship For Vets

The apprenticeship program helps veterans transition from a job in the military to a career in the restaurant industry.

In honor of Veterans Day and National Apprenticeship week, Chili’s and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) have partnered to create an apprenticeship program to help veterans transition from a job in the military to a career in the restaurant industry.

“At Chili’s, our purpose is to connect, serve, and give, but it’s our military servicemen and women who truly define what serving others means. This is why we’re committed to creating a pathway for them into management in our restaurants,” said Rick Badgley, senior vice president and chief people officer at Brinker International, Inc., in a statement. “Our goal is to prepare our team members for their ‘next’ and by partnering with the NRAEF, we are able to take our current internal apprenticeship program, couple it with official industry credentials, which are transferrable, and create a rewarding and clear career path.”

Eligible members of the U.S. Armed Forces who participate in the restaurant management apprenticeship program will learn specific skills and training that will help them succeed in restaurant and hotel management positions.

The U.S. Department of Labor along with the NRAEF and the American Hotel & Lodging Association developed this apprenticeship three years ago, however, this is the first time Chili’s signed on as a partner. The restaurant chain committed to training 250 apprentices, the largest commitment to date within the program.   

Chili’s already encourages its own employees to participate in training that will help them build a career and grow within the company. It hopes to do the same thing with military members. The apprenticeship program is designed so military members are supported throughout the hiring and transition from active duty to civilian life.

“We are increasingly looking for ways to empower military servicemen and women to join our industry and place them on a path towards advancement,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of the NRAEF, in a statement. “We truly want these honorable men and women to see the restaurant and foodservice industry as a top option for a fulfilling and rewarding careers.”

At the moment, Chili's is in the middle of a financial comeback. The 1,634-unit Brinker International company reported same-store sales gains of 2 percent during the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Guest traffic also increased 4 percent during this quarter. By partnering with Chili's, the apprenticeship program will give veterans the chance to enter a stable work environment in a company that is moving in a postitive direction.  

During an October 30 conference call, Brinker CEO Wyman Roberts said, “We think the combination of improved quality, stronger value, and then just better execution is going to allow us to continue to move forward with growth in traffic for the near future.”

To learn more about how you can get involved in the Foundation’s apprenticeship and military programs and initiatives, visit