portillosCould a Portillo’s restaurant be opening in the Quad-Cities next year?

Chris Glass and Dewayne Stropes hope so, and after talking with officials from Portillo’s, they think it could happen.

Glass, 29, of Davenport, and Stropes, 22, of Moline, are both big fans of the Chicago-area restaurant chain famed for their delicious Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, rich chocolate cakes and other classic Americana diner fare. So they decided on a whim to start up a movement to bring Portillo’s to the Quad-Cities, building a Facebook page dedicated to it and getting the word out through social media.

Little did they realize they would be starting a landslide.

Glass and Stropes debuted the Bring Portillo’s to the Q-C page over the weekend.
By midweek, they had almost 15,000 likes on the page.

To put that into perspective, there have been a number of other cities which have built pages to bring the chain to their towns over the past few years.

Even months and years later, none of those pages has eclipsed 8,000 likes.

“We’ve been really amazed and happy with the response,” Glass said. “Both Dewayne and I were on facebook in another group and we were talking about Portillo’s and thought it would be a great idea to bring it to the Quad-Cities, so we thought why not start a page? We were hoping to get a few thousand likes on it and hopefully get the attention of the Portillo’s owners, but it went way beyond expectations. We were over 1,000 followers within a day and here we are less than a week later and we’re about to go past 13,000.”
The explosion of interest has not gone unnoticed by Portillo’s ownership.

“Yeah we just heard from Nick Scarpino, the publicist for Portillo’s, he was quick to mention how happy they were to see the traction we had gained from the page because they had been looking at the Quad-Cities and the feasibility of it as a market. A lot of research goes into it before they decide to build a franchise in a market, but the interest our page has shown has really given them some good feedback.”

Neither Glass nor Stropes has any financial stake in the franchise or its moving here, they’re simply doing this as a volunteer gig because they want to be able to get some of their favorite food from the Chicago burbs here in the Quads.

“I’m a Rockford native and on weekends my Dad and I would go up to Arlington Heights when I was growing up and we would always stop at Portillo’s,” Glass said. “We love the food and we think there’s a lot of potential here in the Quad-Cities because there are a lot of colleges around here that have a lot of students from the Chicago suburbs and they all know Portillo’s.”

Glass is also hoping that if Portillo’s opens up and is successful, other Chicago-area mainstays will consider local outlets.

“We need a lot of economic development here in the Quad-Cities, we need new restaurants and new business,” Glass said. “If Portillo’s moves here, maybe they have one franchise on each side of the river and maybe they both do well, then maybe you’ll see a Lou Malnati’s or another restaurant like that consider moving here. It’s just bringing more business to the area, more money to the area, and it’s great for people who are fans of the food.”

There’s already a new Portillo’s slated to open in Normal, Ill., in early 2017 and Glass is hoping that later on next year, we’ll see one here too.

“I’m at about a 75 percent confidence level that we could have a Portillo’s here by fall of 2017,” Glass said. “There have been a lot of other fan pages out there in other cities and none of them have done anywhere near as well as ours. The Portillo’s people are smart businesspeople. They’ve noticed that. And the CEO of Portillo’s, Keith Kinsey, is a Moline native, so he knows the area. I think if we keep adding people liking our page, it’s really going to get their attention and that’s going to be great for us, and for everyone else who wants to see them here.”

Will it happen? You can register your opinion by liking their page at https://www.facebook.com/Bring-Portillo’s-to-the-Quad-Cities-988610977891916/

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.