Norman Brinker was born in Denver, Colorado, and at an early age moved with his parents to a 10-acre farm in New Mexico. At 10, he started his own rabbit farm; and the opportunities never stopped multiplying. After college, Brinker went into the restaurant business in a small way before founding Steak and Ale in 1966. In 1971, S&A became a publicly held company. In 1976, after building S&A to 100 restaurants, it was acquired by The Pillsbury Company, making Brinker a member of the Board and the largest individual shareholder.
In 1982, he became Chairman of The Pillsbury Restaurant Group, the world’s second-largest restaurant organization, which included Burger King, with total sales approaching $4 billion. In 1983, he resigned that post and bought Chili’s, a Dallas-based restaurant company operating 23 units with $35 million in sales. In 1990, Chili’s was named Brinker International. Today, Brinker International operates over 750 restaurants with $1.2 billion in sales.