The Choctaw Nation, based in Durant, announced this week the purchase of Chili's franchises and plans to build Chili's restaurants in Poteau and Atoka. That announcement has caused some to question why Sallisaw and Sequoyah County can't have one of the national restaurants too.
Judy Martens, Sallisaw Chamber Executive Director addressed this issue in an email Tuesday sent to chamber members. Martens wrote: "To dispel any confusion or curiosity as to why Poteau and Atoka are receiving a Chili's in the near future, I have posted below an article taken from the Choctaw Nation website. As you can see, the Choctaw Tribe purchased the franchise for these two locations. Without that, it is extremely doubtful that Chili's would have located in these two areas based on their demographic and financial outlay requirements. Please also note that these two locations will be 'adjacent to the existing Choctaw Nation Travel Plaza and Casinos'. They will sit on land owned by the Choctaw Nation. However, we do congratulate these two Oklahoma communities for receiving these restaurants and the jobs that will be created from this transaction. Any jobs added in Oklahoma are good for all of us."
Martens said after the email was sent, "I felt it was important to clarify the reason that these two towns, which are both smaller than Sallisaw, will be receiving a national chain restaurant." The Choctaw Nation, by buying the franchises and building on Choctaw land next to the nation's travel plazas, will avoid taxes.
The Choctaw Nation issued the following press release from tribal headquarters in Durant.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Bringing Chili's Grill and Bar Franchises Along with 80 New Jobs to Southeast Oklahoma
Residents of Atoka and Poteau will soon be able to enjoy a casual lunch or a night on the town at Chili's Grill and Bar. The development of the Chili's restaurants will be the newest additions to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's Franchise Division.
The restaurants will bring a new dining option to communities in central Atoka County and north central LeFlore County, as well as for those traveling through these areas. Both Chili's will be built adjacent to the existing Choctaw Nation Travel Plaza and Casino Too's, located at Highway 69/75 and Highway 3 in Atoka and at the junction of Highway 271 and Highway 112 in Poteau.
"We are excited to bring a popular, nationally recognized restaurant brand of Chili's caliber to these two towns. Even more importantly though, we are thrilled with the jobs these two restaurants will create for the areas' residents," said Choctaw Nation's Chief Gary Batton.
The Atoka location will provide 40 jobs and will be the first casual dining restaurant brand with a national footprint in Atoka. The Poteau restaurant will also provide 40 jobs to the surrounding area. Construction for the Poteau location is set to start this month and the restaurant is expected to open in August 2015. Construction is scheduled to begin March 2015 for the Atoka restaurant, which has an expected completion date of October 2015.
Chili's Grill & Bar is the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT), a recognized leader in casual dining. Chili's offers a variety of Southwestern-inspired, classic American favorites at more than 1,550 locations in 30 countries and two territories. In addition to Chili's, Brinker owns and operates Maggiano's Little Italy. For more brand-related information, please visit chilis.com.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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