Chili’s Grill & Bar (above), located at 1212 U.S. Highway 259 North here in Kilgore, closed briefly, a company spokesperson said, when some employees tested positive for COVID-19. Chili’s temporarily closed the restaurant to thoroughly deep-clean and disinfect, but is back open Thursday under regular hours.

If you want your baby-back, baby-back, baby-back ribs, you can still get them in Kilgore.

Chili’s Grill & Bar, located at 1212 U.S. Highway 259 North, has been serving up their favorites here for a decade and a half, and has had some staffing issues recently due to COVID-19.

As a result, irregular hours occurred, a spokesperson said, and Chili’s was closed briefly, but will have regular hours tomorrow (Thursday, October 15).

“We learned that a few team members unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 at Chili’s in Kilgore,” a Chili’s corporate spokesperson told the News Herald on Monday. “As a result, we immediately followed our safety protocol per local regulations and CDC guidelines, and excluded the team members from work. We temporarily closed the restaurant to thoroughly deep-clean and disinfect as the safety of our guests and team members is our top priority.

“We recently re-opened for dine in and to-go from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., and will continue to follow our enhanced cleaning procedures. We want to ensure everyone feels confident when choosing to dine with us and encourage guests to learn more about the health, cleanliness and safety measures they can expect when dining in or ordering to go.”

Customers can do that at

The franchise includes fare such as hamburgers, steaks, salads, pasta, fajitas, and most notably, their ribs, which were featured in an international marketing campaign for decades.

Chili’s was founded in Dallas in 1975 by Larry Lavine, who sold the company to restaurant mogul Norman Brinker in 1983. The Chilis brand has over 1,600 locations worldwide.

Chili’s opened in Kilgore on Dec. 8, 2005, and although other brands have had franchises here for years – national brands like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Sonic, and more Texas-based brands like Chicken Express, Jalapeno Tree and Whataburger all included – the opening of Chili’s, combined with the efforts of city officials, the Kilgore Economic Development Corporation and the Kilgore Area Chamber of Commerce, seemed to be the first domino that fell that brought other businesses here.

In addition to all those widely-recognized brands above, Kilgore now has Panda Express, Schlotzsky’s, Dominos, Little Caesar’s, and others, plus a recently-added Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Daquiri Express and soon, Dairy Queen, to be constructed at the corner of Highway 259 and Lantrip.


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