Sunday, June 16, 2013

Portillo's Legacy

As I travel up and down one of the main business streets in my neighborhood, I am always amazed at the amount of traffic at a certain location that houses some retail businesses and a few restaurants.  In fact, around early afternoon, there are always one-to-two police officers with their car and flashing lights in the median.  "They must do this to get free food" I would think!  What I didn't realize was the immense traffic was due to patrons! The restaurant is called Portillo's and I had the pleasure of my first visit a few weeks ago.

Barnelli's Pasta Bowl

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Dick Portillo began his restaurant business in 1963 with a 6' by 12' trailer called "The Dog House."  His initial investment was $1,100 and he sold hot dogs.  The trailer had no running water, or a bathroom.  He ran a hose from a nearby building to get the water he needed.  Within four years, and much success, the business was renamed "Portillo's", and since then has grown to 50 restaurants in the Chicago area and includes expansions to Indiana, Arizona and Southern California. One of his three California locations is situated in Buena Park, the town where I grew up! He has expanded his restaurants to include Barnelli's Pasta Bowl (all things Italian), Luigi's House (an Italian home style atmosphere), Honey-Jam Cafe (breakfast and lunch only). Portillo's Home Kitchen is the company's fast-growing catering and shipping division.

The owner has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and brought back ideas for menu items, as well as decor for his restaurants.  The menus consists of hot dogs, chili, sandwiches (chicken, fish, beef and sausage), burgers, salads, pasta, pizza, sides and deserts.  EVERYTHING is yummy, although I haven't sampled it all....yet!

Luigi's House

As you can see by the pictures, Portillo's is a well-oiled machine for a restaurant. Although it is set up similar to a fast food style, there is nothing fast food about it (except for the speedy preparation and delivery). I ordered my food and within minutes it was ready, placed on a tray with my drink, and I walked over to a window booth which was clean and free of any signs left by the previous occupants.  There are always employees out on the floor to help customers and keep the dining area clean.  Every single employee behind the counter has a smile and made me feel very special! 

Honey-Jam Cafe

Please check out this amazing business and its history on their website at Thanks for stopping by today.  Please check out some other great places around the globe at Unknown Mami's Sundays in My City by clicking on the logo below.   

I'm originally from Buena Park, California, and now Chicago.  Welcome to my city!

Unknown Mami


Tara R. said...

Sounds and looks like a great restaurant, not to mention a true success story.

Raymonde said...

Looks like an amazing place! Enjoy.

Hope you are having a great day...

Dorothy said...

Are the first two pictures from the same place as the 2nd two pictures? Looks very different. Always nice to find a place you like that's also clean with good service!

Jeanie said...

It must be good if they have to have police to direct traffic. It is new to me, but I hope I get to try it someday.It is always great to hear about a success story.

Chris H said...

Sounds lovely.
Sadly I don't think I will ever go there... it's just a little too far from home!

Unknown Mami said...

Sounds great, maybe I can get a chance to check out the SoCal location.