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
Key people
Dick Portillo, Founder
Keith Kinsey, CEO
Revenue US $300 million (2013)
Number of employees
About 4,600[2]
Website portillos.com

Portillo's is an American restaurant chain that specializes in serving Chicago-style food such as hot dogs, Maxwell Street Polish, and Italian Beef. The company was founded by Dick Portillo in 1963 in Villa Park, Illinois under the name "The Dog House".

The majority of Portillo's restaurant locations are in the Chicago metropolitan area and northern Illinois; the chain also encompasses two locations each in Arizona, southern California, Florida, central Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


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.[4] They bought a 12-foot trailer that had no restroom and running water. They named it “The Dog House”.[4] The Dog House operated on North Avenue in Villa Park.[5] 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 into one of the back rooms of a competitor and wrote down where they were purchasing their product.[4] 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”.[6] In 1970, Dick Portillo partnered with Harold Reskin and opened up his second location in a shopping mall that Reskin owned.[4] 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.[7] In the 90’s Portillo’s was profiting more than $50 million with 25 stores around the Chicago area.[4] In 1993, Dick experimented with a few ideas by combining his concept stores Barney’s and Barnelli’s with a Portillo’s restaurant. In 1994, the first Portillo's in Chicago opened up at the intersection of Clark and Ontario St.[4][8] In 1995, Portillo expanded Key Wester Fish & Pasta House in Naples, Florida.[4] In 1996, Portillo brought the Key Wester Fish & Pasta to Naperville. In 2000, Portillo opened up another concept restaurant called Luigi’s House.[4] The Portillo’s chain grew again in 2010 with Honey-Jam Café.[9]

In 2014, Dick Portillo sold Portillo's to Berkshire Partners. The new owners are planning to open five to seven restaurants each year. Portillo has been buying the land for new sites, which he then leases back to the company.[2]

A Portillo's Chicago-style hot dog

Outside Illinois[edit]

Portillo's first California location opened on October 11, 2005, at the Buena Park Downtown shopping center in Buena Park. The second California location opened in 2008 in the Inland Empire city of Moreno Valley. Portillo's also has two locations in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area in Arizona (Tempe and Scottsdale), two in the Milwaukee metropolitan area (Brookfield and Greenfield), and one in the Northwest Indiana town of Merrillville, though the latter is still well within the firm's home market of the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

Portillo's opened its first Florida location in 2016 in the Tampa suburb of Brandon, Florida and a second location that same year in the University Square neighborhood in Tampa. 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.” [10]

Minneapolis-St. Paul then opened its first location (Woodbury) in mid-summer 2017.

Portillo's expects to open new restaurants in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area (Fishers) and a second in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area (Maple Grove) in 2017.

Portillo's had licensed restaurants in Tokyo, Japan, in the late 1980s and early '90s. The Japanese locations all eventually closed.[11]


External links[edit]