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

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is at an all-time high. What’s driving the surge and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
May 23, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
Which States' Taxes Are Going Down
Tax Breaks

Which States' Taxes Are Going Down

State lawmakers are cutting income, sales and property taxes to return budget surpluses to residents.
May 25, 2022

Recommended

2 Strategies to Reduce Taxes from the Sale of Your Business
small business

2 Strategies to Reduce Taxes from the Sale of Your Business

Long before you sell your business is the right time to explore ways to protect your proceeds from harsh taxation. Two possible strategies: the Qualif…
May 15, 2022
The Key to Employee Retention? Compassion!
small business

The Key to Employee Retention? Compassion!

If companies want to hold on to their best employees, they have a powerful (and free) tool at their disposal. They need to connect with empathy but le…
May 14, 2022
Could Diversity Hiring Efforts Endanger Your Company?
small business

Could Diversity Hiring Efforts Endanger Your Company?

Sometimes trying to do the right thing backfires, ending in an expensive lawsuit. Here are some thoughts on how business owners can protect their comp…
May 3, 2022
Preparing Your Family-Owned Business for Sale?
small business

Preparing Your Family-Owned Business for Sale?

Even if you’re not ready to sell right away, it’s smart to always operate as if your business were on the market. The same techniques that boost your …
May 2, 2022