The Chili’s location at University Drive and Mill Avenue closed Wednesday after nearly 25 years in downtown Tempe.
ASU and USA Basketball partnered to create the $350 million dollar project “USA Place” in the lots surrounding Chili’s. The new development will serve as the headquarters of USA Basketball and include a 300,000-square-foot conference center and 4,500-seat exhibition arena.
Chili’s managing partner Nick Kretsedemas said although much of the community calls the business home, the decision was ultimately ASU’s.
“ASU basically is developing a property here, with the headquarters of the Olympics basketball team coming here,” Kretsedemas said. “The reality is we’re the lessee and they’re the leaser.”
USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Colorado. The organization is responsible for selecting and training America’s Olympic basketball teams.
Kretsedemas said the closing of the downtown Chili’s location would largely not affect employees.
“Team members are upset, of course, but we were able to place 100 percent of team members who wanted to stay with Chili’s with other Chili’s,” he said. “We were able to place team members who didn’t want to stay with Chili’s with businesses up and down Mill.”
Kretsedemas said former employees celebrated the location the night before its closing. The reunion was put together via social media.
“We had about 80 ex-team members show up to say goodbye all the way back from 1989,” he said. “Everyone who grew up here and called it home came back to say goodbye to home. We loved being down here sand we’re going to miss being on University and Mill.”
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