Is Chili’s, the American chain restaurant, expanding to East 6th Street or is this just a joke? According to signage draped in front of the former Uptown Sports Club building on East 6th and Waller streets spotted by tipsters, yes, Chili’s is opening an East Side location.
However, it’s looking like a joke, potentially inspired by online forum Reddit. The 45th Street location of the chain is a known running gag on the site’s Austin section as a go-to suggestion for every question. Reddit users are aware of the signage, too.
There is even a Twitter account for the restaurant location — though it is preceded with a "temporarily restricted" warning because of "some unusual activity from this account”. Its first and only tweet says that the chain is on the way and that it "can't wait to serve you East Austin!" But it could be a fake account — it also should be noted that Chili’s doesn’t normally open location-specific Twitter accounts, unless it is country-based. There doesn't seem to be anything in permitting either.
Yes, it's true. We can't wait to serve you East Austin! Follow us for updates #chilis— Chilis (@chiliseast) July 12, 2017
It seems like whoever is behind the signage even distributed menus across the East Side, boasting of Austin-inspired dishes like the Austin City Limitless Queso and Fun Fun Fun Fries and SXSWestern Eggrolls.
Eater reached out to an Austin Chili’s location, but the manager didn’t know anything about a potential expansion. Eater also reached out to Chili’s headquarters, watch this space for updates.
There are currently 14 Austin-area Chili restaurants.
Update, 2:50 p.m.: A rep for Chili's pointed to the chain's Twitter account for its official statement, where it acknowledged the absurdity of the potential new location: “That would be weird for us to move to East 6th" with the hashtags Keep Austin Weird and Fake News.