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What’s Your Beef?

Portillo’s Celebrates Grand Opening in Fishers

Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Jamie Sangar

Indy residents no longer need to drive north for hours if the craving for a Portillo’s all-beef, Chicago-style hot dog or Italian beef happens to strike.

The Chicago-based restaurant chain, founded in 1963 and now with more than 50 stores nationwide, officially opened its 9,000-square-foot Fishers eatery at 116th Street and I-69 on September 28, and Chief Executive Officer Keith Kinsey says the timing was perfect for Indy to be the latest in Portillo’s growing list of locations.

“We started looking at Indianapolis probably 18 months ago,” he says. “We’ve kind of moved around in a circular motion outside of Chicago, and Indiana was just the perfect part of that circle to continue our growth in the Midwest. We love to be a part of what’s going on here.”

The Fishers Portillo’s is the second location in Indiana, including a location in Merrillville, and Kinsey says the expansion is part of a natural gravitation toward the Indiana market the company has seen over the past few years.

“We have a lot of guests in this area that order food from us on the web and get it shipped, and then we also have a lot of people from Indianapolis that drive up to Merrillville to get their weekend hit,” Kinsey says. “So, Indianapolis in general is a great market for us and a big opportunity. The location just off I-69 is a major growing area. You’ve got a lot going on there with the new IKEA, and we’re beautifully positioned right there in the middle of it.”

In addition to its signature all-beef hot dog that comes with a wide choice of toppings and garnishments, Kinsey expects the restaurant’s sandwiches, ribs and desserts to be hits with the greater Indy market.

“The Italian beef is phenomenal and we expect that to be popular here,” he says. “People connect with that very well. We have many salad choices too if you’re in the mood, and then of course you can’t end your visit without making sure you either get a slice of cake or our cake shake.”

Yes, Portillo’s actually mixes in chunks of chocolate cake with ice cream and milk to achieve its unique cake-shake consistency.

Portillo’s has hired 150 employees, as well as a seven-member management team, for the 200-seat restaurant, which includes a drive-through and ample outdoor seating. Kinsey says all but one of the staff members were hired locally, and Area Market Manager Marc Miller adds that the company endeavored to create a visual aesthetic that honors the local community. Interior brick walls, neon signs and checkered tablecloths add to the lively, eclectic atmosphere, while old-school food and beverage posters provide a throwback to the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

“As you come in, you see a whole section on the wall with pictures that go into the history of Fishers,” Miller says. “We have a car on display that was built in 1915 here in Indy. With the overall look on the inside of the restaurant, we’ve really tried to connect with the reasons why Fishers is a great place to live.”

Portillo’s is located at 9201 East 116th Street in Fishers. For more information call 317-588-1111 or visit portillos.com.

About Jon Shoulders

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