Poll: With Chili’s out, readers want similar option in city in its place

Chili's has dropped its bid to build a restaurant in Maricopa. The fast-casual dining chain was slated to build in The Wells but has decided against a location in Maricopa at this time. Renderings of what Chili's might have been. [Kidder Mathews]

Maricopa’s dining options took a hit last week when Chili’s announced it would not be opening in Maricopa after securing a location a year ago and announcing the fast-casual dining giant was coming to town.

In the meantime, Maricopans are out one sit-down restaurant option that many had been counting on to open this year. In light of that, our weekly reader poll question was: “Now that Chilis has backed out of its plan to open in Maricopa, what restaurant, or type of restaurant, would you like to see come to the city instead?”

The responses indicate perhaps Chili’s should not have canceled its opening.

More than half of our 661 respondents – 55.8% – said, “A similar sit-down restaurant with a wide menu, like Applebee’s or Red Robin.”

Another 37.8% responded, “A higher-end sit-down restaurant that isn’t Mexican or pizza and isn’t necessarily a national chain.”

Just 6.4% said they were not that invested in it because they rarely go out to eat.

Chili’s specializes in fast-casual dining with a diverse menu. The company initially had targeted November 2022 for its opening in a location next to Jiffy Lube at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and Stonegate Road, west of Walmart.

Chili’s parent company, Brinker International, downplayed the announcement and left the door open to a future site.

“The process of opening a Chili’s restaurant requires the successful completion of numerous variables that begin well before a restaurant is announced and continue until the ribbon cutting. Unfortunately, the planned restaurant in Maricopa didn’t make it to the finish line and won’t be opening.

“This halted opening by no means signifies an official end for the future of Chili’s in Maricopa, but as our new-restaurants team continues to target perfect locations, Maricopa included, we hope to continue serving Maricopa residents at our locations in Chandler and Gilbert.”