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Chicago-inspired restaurant eyeing Las Vegas expansion

Updated September 25, 2023 - 7:03 pm

Another option for Windy City staple food such as Italian beefs and Chicago-style hotdogs should be coming to Las Vegas as Portillo’s, a Chicago-inspired chain restaurant, announced that it’s seeking to expand to Sin City.

Portillo’s is looking to expand into Las Vegas in the near future “as part of its long-term plan to scale the brand and open new locations across the country,” according to a news release.

It’s unclear when or where the first Portillo’s in Las Vegas could open. But the company said it found recent success with expansion, and that “upon entering new markets, the brand looks to scale quickly.”

The chain — which started in a Chicago suburb in 1963 — currently has 77 locations open in 10 different states, but it is looking to expand aggressively and wants to open 84 by the end of the year. The news release said Portillo’s is eventually looking to have 920 locations, with 800 full-scale restaurants and 120 takeout locations. .

There is some excitement for the expansion whenever it comes. Mike Shaw was at Joe’s Bar — a Chicago-themed sports bar in northwest Las Vegas — along with the lunch crowd on Friday and said he’s never been to a Portillo’s, but he’s heard good things.

“I first saw the news on Facebook, and I like that they’re coming here,” Shaw said. “I want to go and try a real Chicago dog.”

The owner of Joe’s Bar, Joe Signore, has been in Las Vegas for 25 years but grew up in the Chicago suburb of Hickory Hills, Illinois. He said he loves Portillo’s and thinks a location coming to Las Vegas is a “great idea.”

“So many Chicagoans move out here, and more and more just keep coming,” said Signore, whose favorite item at Portillo’s is its Italian beef sandwich.

Signore suspects many people around the Chicagoland area move to Las Vegas in order to escape the harsh Midwestern winters and for the friendlier taxes in Nevada compared to Illinois.

Portillo’s isn’t the first Windy City restaurant to look to expand to Sin City. In 2016 the deep-dish pizza chain Giordano’s — which started in Chicago in 1974 — opened its first location in Las Vegas.

In addition to Vegas, Portillo’s is looking to expand to Atlanta and Denver since these markets have high population growth, said Portillo’s President and CEO Michael Osanloo in a presentation to investors.

Las Vegas residents can already order some of Portillo’s food items including hot dogs, tamales and chocolate cake and have it shipped to them. Information gleaned from these shipments is helping the company identify where new locations should open.

“We’re going where people are, we’re going where people are moving, we’re going where people are demanding our food,” Osanloo said during his presentation. “Our strategy is to go where the growth is.”

Oslanoo also said that the main focus for Portillo’s expansion is on states outside the Midwest and in the Sunbelt with high population growth, like Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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