Sheesh Portillo's, what took you so long?
That's what a lot of Chicago transplants in the Valley may be saying to themselves upon hearing the news that the Chicago-area restaurant company is bringing its Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef, hamburgers, Maxwell Street Polish, salads, and desserts to several locations in the Valley.
Count me in that crowd. During my time in the Chicago area, Portillo's, a fast-casual restaurant known for its quick service, great food, eye-catching decor, and counter-view of food preparation, was a mainstay (I was particularly partial to the Chicago dogs and decadent slices of rich, chocolate cake) and whenever I go back to visit, it's a must-have.
I've even gone the route of having a Portillo's Hot Dog Party Package shipped to a good friend here as a birthday present.
Read on to find out whether this Chicago institution plans on putting one of its restaurants in your neck of the woods.
According to the Phoenix Business Journal, Portillo's is scouting locations in Tempe (Tempe Marketplace), Chandler (Chandler Fashion Center), and Scottsdale, among others, (a deal at the Paradise Valley Mall has fallen through) and hopes to have a total of three or four Phoenix-area restaurants.
Currently, Portillo's has 31 locations in Illinois, two in California, and one in Indiana. The new locations in the Valley would be the first in Arizona.
"We ship a lot of [mail-order] food to Arizona, and I got e-mails all the time from people asking us to open there," founder Dick Portillo told the Phoenix Business Journal. "I think we have a lot of fans there, and I want to be proactive on this."
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The Journal goes on to say that the locations will be new builds (around 7,000 square feet), include a drive-thru, and employ about 120 people each. Once a location receives approval, it can be open in nine months.
The waiting, as they say, is the hardest part.