No more Chili’s baby back ribs in SLO County as chain closes its last restaurant here

David Middlecamp/

San Luis Obispo County’s last remaining Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurant closed Tuesday, and team members were wrapping up their shut-down procedures the next day.

“It was a pretty quick announcement,” operations director Marisol Quintero said after closing the doors at the Paso Robles restaurant on Tuesday evening. “We informed team members a couple of weeks back. We’ve been informing our guests during the last week.”

The nearest Chili’s restaurant now for fans of the chain would be in Salinas or Goleta, Quintero said.

Those diners likely will miss Chili’s Big Mouth Burgers, fajitas, Terlingua Chili, Presidente Margaritas and the baby back ribs that were immortalized in the catchy “buh, buh, buh, baby back, baby back …” jingle introduced in 1986.

Quintero declined to say how many employees were being displaced by the closure or why Brinker International, which owns Chili’s and all its family-style restaurants in every U.S. state, decided to shutter the Paso Robles location in the Target shopping center.

“We are working to try to help the team members and management team to go to other Chili’s or find other jobs,” Quintero said. “We’ve already been able to find some places for our team members to go.”

The Paso eatery, which opened in 2007, was at 2001 Theater Drive in the northeast corner of the 27-acre Paso Robles Crossings center. Remaining eateries in the center are Taco Roco, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Blaze Pizza, Carl’s Jr., and for dessert, Crumbl Cookies and See’s Candies. There’s also a Starbucks.

The county’s only other Chili’s spot, in Arroyo Grande, closed in December 2019. A corporate spokesman told The Tribune then that “We constantly review the performance of our restaurants and from time to time will make the tough decision to close a location based on evaluative criteria.”

The Arroyo Grande Chili’s also was what Quintero called a remote location, rather than being among a cluster of the chain’s restaurants in one region, as is the case in the southern Bay Area, another of her management areas.

Quintero oversees 10 of the restaurants, including the Paso Robles unit she just closed down.

Chili’s began in a converted postal station in Dallas in 1975. Norman Brinker bought the chain in 1983.