One of the key treats tourists are persuaded to try in Chicago is their hot dogs. The most popular place for that fine cuisine is restaurant chain Portillo’s, which has been the Chicago staple for not only hotdogs but for burgers, Italian beef, etc. for decades; however, due to the success and the wanting to expand, the company has been put up for sale. As a result, the company is seeking investors to help make the fast-food chain a national entity.
Portillo’s Hot Dogs, Inc. was initially started as a single hot dog stand in Villa Park, IL in 1963. Since that time, the company has expanded and is based in the nearby Chicago suburb of Oakbrook. They are known for having a diverse menu that includes Chicago-style hot dogs, burgers, Italian beef, French fries, ribs and many other such items one comes to expect with fast food.
In turn, the restaurant has become a smorgasbord of most fast food items under the sun. What separates it though, is through its quality of food, compared to the typical fast-food joint. With this success it has become a Chicago staple.
Currently though, founder Richard Portillo sees the need for his company to expand to other territories in the U.S. While the company has expanded slightly in places such as Indiana, California and Arizona, along with its home base of Chicago, IL, Portillo’s is wanting help to expand the company that made more than $300 million in 2013; to do this, they want an investor who is up for putting the franchise in the forefront of the food industry as a result of the sale.
To help with the sale, and in order to get the right group of investors, Portillo’s has hired Piper Jaffray Cos. to help manage the sale of the company. The investment bank that is based in nearby Minneapolis is a world-renowned company with offices stationed in London, Hong Kong, as well as several others in the U.S., including Chicago.
Besides its notoriety for quality fast-food cuisine, the restaurant offers an ambiance unmatched by most fast food restaurants, with its old west style, from old fashioned booths and tables, to life size cowboy and Indian decorative pieces. Moreover, for the most part, Portillo’s restaurants are of great size, averaging in about 9,600 square feet per location.
However, they also remain a popular item for those in a rush, by implementing the two-lane drive-thru. This, of course, was in correlation to the non-stop line of cars outside of the building, which also yielded in a customer service strategy of personnel outside taking orders, opposed to the tried and true fashion of utilizing its drive-thru speaker.
In addition to Portillo’s restaurants, the company also owns smaller chains including Barnelli’s Pasta Bowl, which oftentimes is featured inside of Portillo’s locations and contains various pasta, soup and salad offerings on top of the typical fast-food fare. They also own companies such as Honey-Jam Cafè, a breakfast restaurant and Luigi’s House, an Italian restaurant chain.
While many Chicago natives might be in a state of shock, the staple is doing what it should to capitalize upon its success. Portillo’s, as a result, wants to move itself away from its Chicago identity and, instead, wanting to expand; furthermore by putting it the company up for sale, it may very well become one of the top fast-food companies in the nation. Only time will tell.
By Simon Mounsey