Portillo’s looks to Sun Belt for restaurant growth

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In 2023, “at least the majority — if not the vast majority” of new sites will be in those three states, chief executive Michael Osanloo said in a phone interview.

Chicago restaurants have been slower to bounce back from Covid-19 as people remain cautious about returning to work and eating indoors, Osanloo said.

“There are certain cities, metropolitan statistical areas, that approach it differently,” he said. “It could very well be urban or less urban. We are certainly seeing different behaviors in markets across the country. »

He said restaurants in Portillo, Florida are doing well from a dine-in perspective and some towns in Arizona are seeing an influx of people — a boon for the chain’s expansion. Meanwhile, the country’s third-largest city, with around 2.7 million people, has seen the number of residents dwindle in recent years. Population fell 1.8% between April 2020 and July 2021, Census Bureau Data To display.

“It’s a punch in the face,” Osanloo said of this population loss in Chicago. “And it’s not like people aren’t building restaurants in Chicago. So it’s a dog fight.

Portillo’s, now based in Oak Brook, Illinois, began as a hot dog stand in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park in 1963, and has since grown to over 70 pitches in nine states.

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