business

Whatever Happened to Chi-Chi's Restaurants?

A deadly hepatitis A outbreak devastated the chain in the U.S., but locations remain overseas.

The home of the chimichanga and fried ice cream, Chi-Chi's was big on spicy food, from salsa and nachos to everything else Americans thought of as Tex-Mex food. Created by former Green Bay Packers star Max McGee and restaurateur Marno McDermit, it launched in 1975 in the unlikeliest of places for a Mexican food chain: downtown Minneapolis.

The timing was perfect, with Mexican food a trendy choice for diners at that time. Chi-Chi's took off, growing to 237 locations by 1986. But increased competition and a slew of unfortunate events spelled the chain's demise: The number of location slipped to 144 by 2002; Chi-Chi's filed for bankruptcy in 2003; and a month after that filing, tainted green onions imported from Mexico and served at a Chi-Chi's near Pittsburgh caused a hepatitis A outbreak that sickened 636 people and killed four.

The U.S. chain never recovered, though there are Chi-Chi's restaurants in Europe, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. And you can still find Chi-Chi's-branded products, owned by Hormel, in supermarkets.

Learn the fates of 13 more classic restaurant chains including Steak and Ale, Beefsteak Charlie's and Bennigan's.

Most Popular

4 Big Retirement Blunders (and How to Avoid Them)
retirement

4 Big Retirement Blunders (and How to Avoid Them)

It’s too bad, but financial advisers see these four mistakes all the time. Don’t fall into the same traps.
October 6, 2021
The Best Vanguard Funds for 401(k) Retirement Savers
mutual funds

The Best Vanguard Funds for 401(k) Retirement Savers

Vanguard funds account for roughly a third of the 100 most popular 401(k) retirement products. We rank Vanguard's best actively managed funds, includi…
October 8, 2021
13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits
social security

13 States That Tax Social Security Benefits

You may have dreamed of a tax-free retirement, but if you live in these 13 states, your Social Security benefits are subject to a state tax. That's on…
October 4, 2021

Recommended

You’ve Just Sold Your Business for Millions. Now What?
small business

You’ve Just Sold Your Business for Millions. Now What?

Financial and life decisions often become more complex – not less – after selling. Here are ways to maximize your profits from the sale while enjoying…
October 21, 2021
Business Cost Outlooks for 2022: Eight Key Sectors
Economic Forecasts

Business Cost Outlooks for 2022: Eight Key Sectors

What’s in store for all sorts of business costs in 2022?
October 12, 2021
11 Reasons You Don't Want to Retire in Florida
retirement

11 Reasons You Don't Want to Retire in Florida

An overabundance of boomers, critters, sweat and weirdness. Welcome to the dark side of the Sunshine State.
October 6, 2021
Want to Sell Your Business to Beat 2022 Tax Increases? Consider Charitable ‘Bunching’
small business

Want to Sell Your Business to Beat 2022 Tax Increases? Consider Charitable ‘Bunching’

You could be facing quite a tax bill if you sell your business, especially if capital gains taxes rise. One tool to soften that blow could involve the…
September 30, 2021