Oregon Is Mysteriously Lacking In Chili's Restaurants

Most people are familiar with Chili's iconic "Baby Back Rib" jingle, and perhaps also the completely different version of the tune that came before it. Catchy and clever, the earworm might even make your mouth start watering for a rack of the chain's deliciously saucy ribs, and if you're a resident of any U.S. state besides Oregon, you can give in to that craving. Why not Oregon, you ask? Because the Beaver State is the only member of the United States of America (aside from Washington, D.C., but that's not a state) that, as of this writing, does not have a Chili's Grill & Bar to call its own.

This tragedy isn't from lack of trying, however. Once upon a time, Oregon was home to at least six Chili's restaurants, which were operated by the Arizona-based franchisee Quality Restaurants Northwest, Inc. Of that sextet, Portland Business Journal reported that four were abruptly closed in May 2008 with no warning, even to the staff. Ownership of the remaining two was transferred back to Chili's parent company, Brinker International Inc.

As with many business closures during that period, the Great Recession could possibly be to blame for the quadruple loss of Oregonian Chili's restaurants in 2008. However, neither Quality Restaurants nor Brinker International confirmed that financial troubles were the reason for the permanent shutdowns, nor did they offer an alternative reason, so it seems that the sudden closures will remain a mystery.

The last Chili's in Oregon shut its doors in 2015

After the four-part closures of Oregonian Chili's restaurants in May 2008, two locations remained open in Eugene, OR, and Clackamas, OR. By 2010, however, that number dwindled yet again when the latter location shut down, leaving Eugene as the sole destination for Chili's fare in the entire state. The restaurant continued serving the community until finally shutting its doors for good in April of 2015, this time with a bit more forewarning to patrons and employees.

The closure marked the ending of the Chili's era for the state of Oregon, which has yet to be revived. Still, one can't help but wonder why a new Chili's Grill & Bar hasn't rejoined the state's restaurant scene in the last decade, or if there are any plans to do so in the future. The answer to that is we don't really know. Regarding the situation, a Chili's spokesperson told Mashed: "While there are currently no plans to add an Oregon location, we are regularly evaluating new communities for Chili's expansion. As part of this process, we consistently listen to guest feedback and also take into consideration other elements such as distribution logistics and available real estate when considering new locations."

For the time being, it looks like Oregonians will have to take getting their Chili's fix into their own hands with recipes such as these for copycat Chili's salsa and chicken crispers.