Portillo's Restaurants

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Portillo's Restaurants
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1963 in Villa Park, Illinois {[1]}
Headquarters Oak Brook, Illinois, USA
Number of locations
Area served
United States
Key people
Dick Portillo, Founder
Keith Kinsey, CEO
Revenue US $300 million (2013)
Website portillos.com

Portillo's is an American restaurant chain that specializes in serving Chicago-style food. The company was founded by Dick Portillo in 1963 in Villa Park, Illinois under the name The Dog House. Portillo's is located primarily in the Chicago metropolitan area, and also has two locations in southern California and another two locations in Arizona. Portillo's is owned by The Portillo Restaurant Group is the largest privately owned restaurant group as of June 2015 with 50 different restaurants around the nation.[3] The Portillo Restaurant group operates Portillo's, Barnelli’s Pasta Bowl, Honey Jam Cafe, and Portillo’s Home Kitchen.[4] As of 2013, Portillos sales were over $300 million.[5] The company has over 4000 employees employed.[4]


Portillo’s was founded in 1963 by Dick Portillo.[3] After returning from serving in the Marines, Dick gathered money from his savings and from an investment from his brother frank to open a hotdog stand.[6] They bought a 12-foot trailer that had no restroom and running water. They named it “The Dog House”.[6] The Dog House operated on North Avenue in Villa Park.[7] At the beginning stages, the stand was losing money and Portillo needed to find a solution. Portillo went to do some research one day on how other competitors were operating and snuck in to one of the back rooms of a competitor and wrote down where they were purchasing their product.[6] He continued the process of learning by visiting different competitors. By 1967, The Dog House was in good standing, was upgraded to a larger trailer, and was renamed “Portillo’s”.[8] In 1970, Dick Portillo partnered with Harold Reskin and opened up his second location in a shopping mall that Reskin owned.[6] Between 1972 and 1989, In 1987 Dick opened up a second restaurant under the name “Barney’s” that specialized in BBQ meals. In 1983 Portillo’s opened up its first drive thru in Downers Grove, IL and becomes known for its quick nontraditional dive thru service.[4] In the 90’s Portillo’s was profiting more than $50 million with 25 stores around the Chicago area.[6] In 1993, Dick experimented with a few ideas by combining his concept stores Barney’s and Barnelli’s with a Portillo’s restaurant. This concept was created to offer a wide variety of choices of selection for customers and had a positive response from Chicago area customers.[6] In 1995 Portillo expanded Key Wester Fish & Pasta House in Naples, Florida.[6] In 1996, Portillo brought the Key Wester Fish & Pasta to Naperville. In 2000, Portillo opened up another concept restaurant called Luigi’s House.[6] The most recent addition to the Portillo’s chain was made in 2010 with Honey-Jam Café.[9]

Portillo's beef n cheddar.jpg

Specialty Menu Items[edit]

Portillo's Specialty items include:

Chicago-style hot dogs: Mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun.[10]

Street Style Polish: Polish dog, steamed bun, onions, and mustard.

Italian beef: Roast Beef, Covered in gravy, and spiked with giardiniera.[11]

Milk Shakes: Milkshake with pieces of cake.[11]

Chocolate Cake: Cake.

Other Regular Menu Items include:

Sandwiches, ribs, salads, beer and wine.[attribution needed]

Outside Illinois[edit]

Portillo's first California location opened on October 11, 2005, at the Buena Park Downtown shopping center in Buena Park, with a second location in Moreno Valley, California that opened in 2008. Portillo's also has two locations in Arizona and one in Merrillville, Indiana, though the latter is still well within the firm's home market of Chicago and its suburbs.[attribution needed]

Portillo's had licensed restaurants in Tokyo, Japan, in the late 1980s and early '90s. The Japanese locations all eventually closed.[12] Portillo's also sells items from its menu by mail order in a partnership with Eli's Cheesecake and Lou Malnati's pizzeria.[13]

Portillo's plans to open its first Florida location in 2016 in Tampa.[attribution needed]The chain generated publicity with a tongue-in-cheek open letter on its website on June 16, 2015, the day after its hometown NHL team, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the 2015 Stanley Cup. The stunt received newspaper coverage in both cities. “It’s official. Portillo’s is coming to Tampa in 2016. Tampa residents spent years peppering us with requests to build a restaurant — you really put us in a pickle. So we’re thrilled we’re finally making our way to Florida,” Portillo's letter said, showing the chain's ironic humor. “Let’s be frank: No matter whose jersey you’re wearing, everyone will be welcome. We hope you don’t have a beef against us or our hometown team.” [14]

Honey Jam Cafe[edit]

In 2010, Portillo Restaurant Group launched the Honey Jam Café concept.[15] Unlike the other three concepts which focus on fast casual food, Honey Jam is essentially an upscale pancake house similar to Walker Brothers Pancake House in both ambiance and menu. They feature unique pancake and waffle combinations and specialty items such as a baked apple pancake and white chocolate raspberry Belgian waffles, and offer patrons who order coffee a cup "to go" after receiving their check. The concept's name, according to the menu, is derived from the owner's pet name for his wife, "Honey", and the first letter of his three children's first names comprising the acronym "JAM". The concept is positioned as a breakfast and lunch cafe, thus it closes at 3 pm.[16]


  1. ^ http://www.portillos.com/our-story/
  2. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-05-01/business/chi-portillos-hot-dogs-for-sale-20140430_1_hot-dogs-portillo-restaurant-group-51-years
  3. ^ a b "A piece of Portillo's history can be found in Rockford". www.wrex.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09. 
  4. ^ a b c "History | Portillos". jobs.portillos.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09. 
  5. ^ "Portillo's hot dog chain considers sale". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2015-11-09. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "History of Portillo's Restaurant Group, Inc. – FundingUniverse". www.fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  7. ^ "Portillo's - History, Tradition and .... Hot Dogs!". The Chicago El Stop Food Hunt Project. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  8. ^ "Spotlight on Portillo's | The Dish | Tastes of Chicago". www.tastesofchicago.com. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  9. ^ "How Dick Portillo built a hot dog stand into an empire". Daily Herald. https://plus.google.com/+dailyherald. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  10. ^ "Portillos: Chicago Style Hot Dogs in Moreno Valley | California Through My Lens". California Through My Lens (in en-US). Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  11. ^ a b "Slideshow: The Six Best Dishes at Portillo's in Chicago: Serious Eats". chicago.seriouseats.com. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  12. ^ Portillo's Hot Dogs: Out of the dog house and living the American dream, frankfurter chain operator grows his business independently | Nation's Restaurant News | Find Articles...
  13. ^ Portillo's Beef Kit & Pizza Combo
  14. ^ "Iconic Chicago restaurant consoles Lightning fans in Tampa location announcement". Tampa Bay Tribune. 17 June 2015. 
  15. ^ What's the big idea? Breakfast - Chicago Tribune
  16. ^ Honey Jam Cafe menu introduction

External links[edit]