Portillo's restaurant has Rockford memorabilia, tribute to found - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Portillo's restaurant has Rockford memorabilia, tribute to founder's wife

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ROCKFORD (WREX) - Portillo's will close it's Rockford hiring center later this week.

The company said it has hired the 200-plus employees it needs.

Wednesday, the founder of Portillo's, Dick Portillo, gave the media a tour of his newest restaurant.

It is almost done, minus a few minor touches here and there.  

"Every community that we're in we try to get some localized memorabilia in there," said Portillo.

For Rockford, it's an original program cover from the Rockford Peaches era in the city.

Dick Portillo said his effort to open a restaurant went into extra innings because he could never find the right location, until now.

"In order to reach the sales we know Portillo's can do, we need certain ingredients.  One of those ingredients is plenty of parking," said Portillo.

Portillo expects the Rockford restaurant to make between $9 and $11 million a year in sales.  The city will get a significant cut of the sales taxes.

"We like that a lot," said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.  "That is general fund money, non-restricted dollars."

The restaurant has already put 207 people to work, both full and part time.  They've been training at other restaurants to get ready for the grand opening.  

Another thing to look for at the Rockford restaurant, look down when you walk in the front door.  Portillo's love and admiration for his wife is cemented at every restaurant.

"It's my high school sweetheart," said Portillo.  "I came home and said, 'I'd like to take our life savings and build a hot dog stand.' I cannot remember the exact verbiage, but she went crying to her mother.  Over the years she never complained,.and I give her a lot of credit for that."

The Rockford Portillo's employees will run the Elgin restaurant next week for one last dry run.  Then Dick Portillo hands them the keys to the kitchen on June 9 at 10:30 a.m.
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