Brinker International Awards 5-Star Restaurant Operators with Highest Company Recognition Chili's and Maggiano's General Managers of the Year honored alongside Above Restaurant Leader of the Year at company meeting

DALLAS, Dec. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Surpassing sales goals and operating high-performing restaurants are only a portion of the criteria required of restaurant operators for the highest honor at Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT), parent company of Chili's® Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy®. Brinker is proud to award Michael Weeks, Managing Partner of Chili's in Flower Mound, Texas, and Ty Varner, Managing Partner at Maggiano's NorthPark in Dallas, as General Managers of the Year. Sharing in the excitement is Anthony Stuto, Area Director of eight Chili's locations in the New York and New Jersey markets, who was named the company's Above Restaurant Leader of the Year.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131220/DA36965)

The eighth annual Brinker General Manager of the Year Award and second annual Above Restaurant Leader of the Year Award is part of Brinker's nationwide, cross-brand recognition program know as the 5-Star Challenge. In this challenge, the top five percent of Chili's and Maggiano's managers are distinguished as members of the 5-Star Chairman's Club. These members are awarded cash, a luxury vacation and are eligible to receive the honor of General Manager of the Year and Above Restaurant Leader of the Year.

Apart from the sales and profitability success, recipients of this award strive to engage their team members while providing the best work environment possible, developing other brand leaders, making guests feel special and giving back to their local communities. These and other attributes qualified Weeks, Varner and Stuto for this esteemed recognition.

Weeks began his Chili's career as a manger in 2000 and was quickly promoted to general manager just two years later. Managing the Flower Mound restaurant since 2004, Weeks has become a notable figure in the city, with regular guests playfully asking when he will run for mayor. His commitment goes beyond the walls of the restaurant, supporting various local community events and cancer research organizations including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®, American Cancer Society® and the local chapter of Swim Across America®.

The Above Restaurant Leader of the Year is known for a leadership approach so unique, it is referred to as "Stuto Style." Stuto treats his restaurant managers with respect and compassion, so in return, his team strives to deliver the best results. He began as a manager in 1995 and worked his way to general manager, then area director in 2004. In this role, he consistently exceeds expectations in areas of team member engagement, maintaining low manager turnover and operating best-in-class restaurants.

"Anthony and Michael are exceptional leaders, and their passion for making guests and everyone around them feel special is reflected through the quality team members they have developed over the years," said Wyman Roberts, CEO and president of Brinker International and president of Chili's Grill & Bar. "These three award-winning operators have proved time and time again they possess the skills and drive to achieve excellent results better impacting Chili's and Maggiano's business and people."

Only about five miles away from Brinker's headquarters, Varner works closely with other Maggiano's brand leaders to align on expectations for his restaurant at the NorthPark shopping center in Dallas. Varner took this leadership role during a difficult time for the restaurant, but turned the trend around improving operations efficiencies and the guest and team member experience. Varner, with the reputation of an optimist, aligns his team in the pursuit of excellence and identifies opportunities to make a positive impact on team members, guests, sales and profits.

"As I witnessed Ty transform Maggiano's NorthPark to the best performing restaurant in the brand, I learned leaders come in every style," said Steve Provost, President of Maggiano's Little Italy. "He puts people first, giving his guests an outstanding experience and inspiring team members every shift with his energy and work ethic."

Weeks, Varner and Stuto were formally recognized at a recent Brinker all-team member meeting in Dallas. The trio was presented the prestigious Norman Brinker Cup, a crystal trophy honoring the company namesake and late restaurant-industry icon, a one-year lease on a luxury vehicle of their choice and a $25,000 cash reward. The honorees will also share their achievement with their team members by hosting a celebratory party in their restaurants.

Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT), is one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies, serving more than one million guests daily. Founded in 1975 and based in Dallas, Texas, Brinker owns or franchises nearly 1,600 restaurants in 33 countries and two territories. Brinker's wholly-owned restaurant brands include Chili's® Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy®. For more information, visit www.brinker.com.

SOURCE Brinker International, Inc.



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