Norman Brinker, Dead at 78

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The News is reporting that Norman Brinker died this morning while on vacation in Colorado Springs; he turned 78 last Wednesday. Brinker, of course, is the Colorado-born chairman emeritus of Brinker International -- and the man who, in 1984, took Larry Lavine's Chili's concept public; what began as a bar and grill on the corner of Greenville Avenue and Meadow Road became the foundation for such brand names as On the Border, Maggiano's and Macaroni Grill. Brinker's also a former Olympian, having been part of the 1952 U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team while he was serving in the Navy.

A former Jack in the Box general partner and Pillsbury Restaurant Group chairman, he's also the man behind Steak & Ale, the book On the Brink: The Life and Leadership of Norman Brinker and the Norman E. Brinker Institute for Hospitality and Restaurant Management at the SMU Cox School of Business. Wrote former Brinker International exec Lane Cardwell only last year, Brinker "is responsible for a lot of what we take for granted today across the casual dining category."

Seemed only fitting this morning to re-run this photo, taken in the green room shortly after Carl Reiner and Martin Short squared off at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in September 2008 as part of the Brinker International Forum.

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