Chili's Tweaks Its Food to Look Better on Instagram

'We Look a Lot More at How the Food Is Presented'

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A photo Chili's posted to Instagram. Its parent company's CEO says the chain is using more photogenic buns, among other things, to look better in social media.
A photo Chili's posted to Instagram. Its parent company's CEO says the chain is using more photogenic buns, among other things, to look better in social media.

Chili's Grill & Bar, catering to the Instagram crowd, revamped the look of its dishes to make them look better on social media.

Customers frequently like to take pictures of their food and share the results, putting pressure on the company to refine its aesthetics. Chili's now places its french fries in stainless-steel containers, sits its burgers up higher on the plate and uses buns with more visual appeal. The company also has its own Instagram account, with more than 25,000 followers.

"We look a lot more at how the food is presented," said Wyman Roberts, chief executive officer of Chili's parent company Brinker International.

The social-media preening is part of Chili's push to attract tech-savvy diners. About a year ago, the chain completed a push to outfit all of its tables with digital devices. The Ziosk tablets let customers get drink refills and pay the bill without flagging down a waiter.

Next week, the company will let American Express card holders use reward points when they pay through the tablets. It's relying more on technology as a way to compete with fast-casual chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Chili's is angling for a class of customer it calls "the new school." These diners aren't necessarily millennials -- the generation that restaurant chains all seem to be chasing -- but they are forward-thinking, Mr. Roberts said. And sharing the dining experience with social-media friends is part of that.

Chili's sees Instagram as an extension of its marketing, he said.

"Food is the second most photographed thing, after yourself," Mr. Roberts said. "Selfies of people eating food is the sweet spot."

~ Bloomberg News ~

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