The chain was founded in 1981 by Warren Simmon and his son Scooter Simmon when they opened their first restaurant in Alameda. It grew to 37 restaurants across California by August 1993, when it was acquired by PepsiCo subsidiary Taco Bell.
When PepsiCo decided to exit the restaurant business in 1997, Chevys was sold to the investment group J.W. Childs Associates. In 1999, Chevys then paid $59 million to Applebee's International to buy Rio Bravo Cantina, a poorly performing chain of Mexican restaurants with 66 locations in the U.S.
However, efforts to boost Rio Bravo's customer appeal failed, causing Chevys' executives in 2003 to file for bankruptcy protection. In January 2005, Chevys was acquired by Real Mex Restaurants Inc., the Long Beach, California-based parent company of El Torito Restaurants and Acapulco Mexican Restaurants. Because of that, Real Mex Restaurants became the largest operator of full-service Mexican restaurants in the U.S.
But in October 2011, Real Mex Restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced that it was putting itself up for sale, citing the poor economy as a reason. Last December, as part of its bankruptcy filing, restaurant owners began closing a number of its California restaurants, starting in Southern California and more recently here when both the Pleasanton and Livermore restaurants were closed permanently.