Off-premises sales make up 13 percent of sales at Chili's corporate restaurants, and the new partnership will build on this momentum.

Chili’s has chosen a delivery partner. The Brinker brand announced on June 11 it would be exclusively partnering with DoorDash to expand delivery to 1,000-plus stores nationwide.

Off-premises continues to be a strong spot for the brand. Chili’s off-premises business increased 17 percent in the third quarter of 2019 year over year, with off-premises sales at corporate-owned stores surpassing $330 million or 13 percent of the overall business. As of March 27, 2019, 940 out of Chili’s 1,248 domestic locations were company-owned and the remaining 308 were franchise locations. 

However, the decision to expand delivery to all locations has taken more time for the brand to roll out.

Brinker chief executive officer and president of Chili’s Wyman Roberts broke down the reasons why choosing a third-party partner was taking so long on an April 30 earnings call. Roberts said factoring in delivery fees and integrating a service’s technology into existing technology at restaurants could get complicated.

“We understand the implications of delivery and both the positive and the negative,” Roberts said. “And so we are just looking to make sure that we’re confident before we get too far out of our skis, if you will, on these partners.”

After vetting and testing delivery through other third-party services, Brinker leadership found the perfect fit with DoorDash. Testing showed customers responded positively to the delivery option and proved there was a high demand for such a service.

“We chose DoorDash as an exclusive partner because they have a leading market share in areas where Chili’s restaurants are located and have a fast-growing delivery platform,” Roberts said in a statement. “While we tested delivery with several partners, DoorDash integrated seamlessly into our operations, demonstrated the ability to drive incremental sales, and provided a consistent guest experience. DoorDash shares our vision of a win-win partnership based on sustainable economics, digital leadership, and a constant stream of innovation. Together with DoorDash we can deliver Chili’s favorites to guests wherever they are.”

Chili’s has built up its off-premises business in recent years by strategically rolling out different elements, including a proprietary app and improved to-go packaging. Currently, the casual-dining chain has 6 million active members on its loyalty program. With this new partnership, Chili’s is hoping to build on that momentum.

“Chili’s expects its national partnership with DoorDash to accelerate its omnichannel leadership, drive continued sales growth by levelling the convenience playing field with fast casual and quick service restaurants, and further strengthen the brand for the next generation of guests,” the company said in a statement.

The issue of seamlessly integrating technology into restaurants that Roberts previously pointed out has been solved. DoorDash and Chili’s have combined their systems so DoorDash orders flow directly into Chili’s point-of-sales systems. Both companies are hoping this system will improve a customer’s overall experience with the brand.

“DoorDash is honored to be named as the exclusive delivery partner for Chili’s and Maggiano’s, pairing our best-in-class operations and commitment to quality with America’s most iconic brands,” Toby Espinosa, vice president of business development at DoorDash, said in a statement. “Chili’s is renowned for their fresh, bold menu items and high-quality guest experience, and we’re excited to see how our partnership grows as we connect loyal diners to great food, service, and convenience.”

Maggiano’s Little Italy, also a Brinker International brand, has exclusively partnered with DoorDash for delivery. The system will be fully integrated with Maggiano’s POS in the coming months, the company said in a statement.

Chain Restaurants, Feature, Technology, Chili’s Grill & Bar