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DALLAS-The Dallas Morning News reports that restaurateur and entrepreneur Normal Brinker died on June 9 of aspirated pneumonia. He was 76 years old.

Brinker’s first restaurant was called Brink’s, and was located on Gaston Avenue. He launched Steak & Ale in 1966 with $10,000 and a $5,000 loan. By the time he sold it to Pillsbury Co. 10 years later, the chain had grown to 109 restaurants. While at Pillsbury’s, Brinker launched the Bennigan’s chain.

But Brinker is best-known for Chili’s Inc., a casual dining chain launched in the 1970s. The restaurant led to the publically traded company Brinker International, which owns three dining brands. They are Chili’s Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy and On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina.

Brinker retired as chairman of his company in 2000, having developed the chain of more than 1,000 casual-dining restaurants. The company currently has 1,700 restaurants in 27 countries.

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