February 9, 2004

Chili's Heats Up Downtown Dining

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With a recent onslaught of “big box” businesses like Chili’s and Home Depot opening their doors to the Ithaca community, new shopping and dining options have created a wave of economic change for local residents, students and business owners.

The Chili’s of South Meadow St. on Route 13, became part of the hundreds of Chili’s nationwide and in twenty-two countries when it opened to the Ithaca community on Jan. 29. The Chili’s Ithaca management was excited to become part of the community and witnessed a warm welcome. According to Chili’s manager Chris Russell, business over the past week was “very, very busy. It’s been phenomenal.”

Russell believes the new Chili’s employment of close to 150 people serves to benefit the community’s economy.


“Chili’s lends consistency,” Russell added. “You can go to other places in the area and they can have a good chef one day and a bad one the next. They can turn over management very quickly. We strive for consistency. There are so many international and national students in the area and they know they can come here and it will be the same as the Chili’s at home: good Tex-Mex food.”

General Manager Ron Kubiak moved to the Ithaca area Jan. 9 from Middletown, N.Y. having worked with the corporation for over three years. Kubiak believes the new Chili’s fits “right in as a community player,” and faces the neighboring Applebee’s, located by the Pyramid Mall, as the largest competitor.

“We offer something to the local restaurants as an added attraction and won’t take anything away from them. We don’t pose any competition to restaurants, such as Simeon’s, downtown in the Commons,” he said.

“The best thing we bring to the area is 129 jobs which increases the economy. Our employees will have a more expendable income to eat at the local places as well,” Kubiak added.

Manager Kerry Flannery of locally owned Lost Dog Caf