DALLAS, Dec. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For his commitment to operational excellence and making people feel special, Brinker International, Inc., (NYSE: EAT) parent company of Chili's® Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy®, named Rob Morris, General Manager of Chili's in Searcy, Ark., as the company-wide general manager of the year. In its sixth year of existence, the Brinker GM of the Year award is a nationwide, cross-brand honor that is a part of the company's 5-Star Challenge program, designed to reward top performing managers for profitability in their restaurants. Results are tracked and communicated each quarter, and at the end of each fiscal year, managers whose results are in the top five percent from Chili's and Maggiano's become members of the 5-Star Chairman's Club. All members of the Chairman's Club receive bonuses such as cash, vacation trips and are eligible for the GM of the Year award. Morris was selected for this honor based on key results, including outstanding performance and profit achievements, guest and team member engagement scores, as well as demonstrated commitment to his surrounding community. As the winner, he receives the coveted Norman Brinker Cup – a crystal trophy named in honor of the late restaurant industry icon and company namesake, Norman Brinker – to display in the restaurant, a one-year lease on a new Lexus and $25,000. Additionally, all team members at his restaurant in Searcy will enjoy a special party and a cash bonus. "Rob has been a part of our Chili's family for 19 years and his contributions have helped drive our company's success," said Wyman Roberts, president of Chili's Grill & Bar. "He embraces and exemplifies what it means to be a true leader for the brand and personifies everything we envision an outstanding general manager to be." An Arkansas native, Morris has been the general manager of the Searcy Chili's since it opened in 2006. He effectively achieved profitable results even amid operating in an untraditional location with the absence of a bar area, all while faced with unpredictable economic times. In addition to running a highly-successful restaurant, he still has time to lead volunteer efforts for Chili's. His restaurant is involved with numerous local and national charities, from supporting local schools and tornado relief efforts to Special Olympics, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®, March of Dimes and more. The runner up for this year's award is Rachael Paul, managing partner of Maggiano's in Nashville, Tenn. She has been with the company five years, first joining the Nashville team in 2006 as Maitre D' and was promoted to managing partner earlier this year. In addition to representing The Maggiano's Way, the brand's cultural principles, she produced positive results for the restaurant; including doubling her team's engagement scores by listening to their feedback and fostering new directives to help them enhance the guests' experiences. Paul is also a pillar in her community, supporting several service organizations, such as Tin Pan South, which benefits local Nashville songwriters and artists, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation®. "Rachael lives and breathes all that is The Maggiano's Way," said Steve Provost, president of Maggiano's Little Italy. "She has an extraordinary ability to be successful in all she does – whether it's leading her team, making our guests feel special, or being a beacon in her community. In five short years in Nashville, she's become an integral part of the Maggiano's team. Rachael is indeed a rising star." Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT), is one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies, serving more than 1 million guests daily. Founded in 1975 and based in Dallas, Texas, Brinker owns or franchises more than 1,500 restaurants in 32 countries and two territories. Brinker restaurant brands include Chili's® Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy®. Brinker also holds a minority stake in Romano's Macaroni Grill®. For more information, visit www.brinker.com. SOURCE Brinker International, Inc.