Popular Chicago-area chain Portillo’s plans Fishers location

A popular restaurant chain known for its Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs is planning an Indianapolis-area location.

Portillo’s, a mainstay in the Chicago area for more than 50 years, said it plans to open a restaurant in Fishers this year.

“Portillo's is coming to Fishers, IN in 2017!!!!” the company says in recent postings to several employment and business websites, including Monster.com, ZipRecruiter, Craigslist, LinkedIn and Jobs.com. “We are currently hiring for all levels of Restaurant Management!”  

Officials with Portillo Restaurant Group could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Chicagoland transplants have been clamoring for a Portillo’s in central Indiana for years. A Facebook page, “Bring Portillo’s to Indianapolis,” has nearly 500 followers.

A Fishers official confirmed that Portillo’s representatives recently talked to city planning officials about opening a location near Interstate 69 and 116th Street, close to the Ikea store that is opening in the fall.

Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath declined to comment on the plans Wednesday night, other than to say in an email that “Nothing is definite. No application has been filed.”

It’s unclear whether Portillo’s is considering a spot in The Yard, the 17-acre culinary development planned near Ikea that is expected to contain about a dozen restaurants.

Portillo’s was founded as a hot dog stand in Villa Park, Illinois, in 1963, and grew into a beloved chain of eateries contained mostly to the Chicagoland region. However, in recent years, the chain has begun spreading into other states.

Founder Dick Portillo sold the company to Boston-based Berkshire Partners for an estimated $1 billion in 2014, and the new owners began planning to expand the chain to all 50 states. Portillo remains active in the company.

Portillo's has more than 40 restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Florida and Arizona. The only Indiana location is in Merrillville, which opened in 2006.

The company said it plans to open eight restaurants this year, including its first in Minnesota.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Portillo’s restaurants are typically about 9,000 square feet and far outperform their peers in the fast-casual market, with annual sales of $8 million to $9 million per location.

By comparison, a typical Chili’s Grill & Bar does about $3.5 million in annual sales, and a Chipotle Mexican Grill does about $2.5 million.

Companywide, Portillo's has about 5,000 employees. It sold more than 14 million hot dogs and 22 million slices of chocolate cake in 2015, and goes through 110,000 pounds of Italian beef each week.

Food critics and reader surveys regularly rank the chain's Italian beefs and hot dogs among the best in Chicago.

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