Portillo’s Celebrates Grand Opening of Greenwood Location

Writer / Jon Shoulders

Photographer / Ron Wise

Following its 2017 foray into Fishers, Chicago-based Portillo’s officially launched its Greenwood location on July 9, and management believes the south side is the perfect next spot for the company to offer its signature Italian beef, burgers, hot dogs and desserts.

“We’ve had a lot of people on the south side driving to Fishers, and we had a lot of requests on Facebook and emails coming through from people saying they couldn’t wait for us to open,” says Marc Trevino, Portillo’s marketing manager. “It’s been a warm response from the south side of Indy, and we really appreciate how the community has welcomed us with open arms.”

Portillo’s broke ground on the 9,000-square-foot, 200-seat restaurant in early spring with the mayor in attendance, and General Manager David Pesenko says the company is hiring approximately 200 employees, including six managers for the location, which also includes double drive-through lanes and outdoor seating.

“We typically bring in employees from other locations to teach and train, but we’ve hired all local people for the actual restaurant,” Pesenko says. “It’s great to be able to provide this employment opportunity for Greenwood and for Indianapolis.”

It’s the fourth location for Portillo’s in the Hoosier state including Fishers, Mishawaka and Merrillville, and Pesenko says the south side store is the next step in the company’s vision for a long-term presence throughout Indy.

“Indy is a great spot for us and we wanted to continue to expand throughout the area,” Pesenko says. “When we come to a city we’re all in, and we’ve had a great reaction so far.”

In April Portillo’s, which was founded as a hot dog stand in Chicago in 1963, announced plans for an Avon location on US Highway 36, and Pesenko says the company expects the Avon store to be open by November.

Portillo’s Greenwood, like most of the company’s 50-plus locations around the country, boasts a prohibition-style aesthetic with local touches strewn about the walls.

“The visuals are very similar to the one in Fishers, but at each location we try to pick out artifacts that are unique to that specific area,” Trevino says. “So you’ll see some Indy 500 memorabilia and things of that sort scattered throughout the restaurant.”

Trevino adds that the Greenwood location on US-31, south of Stop 11 Road, provided the company with the larger-than-average footprint it needed to build out a typical Portillo’s establishment.

“Even after we find an area with a demographic that we know will love our restaurant, like the south side of Indy, the challenge becomes finding a spot that can house a 9,000-square-foot building with a double drive-through,” he says. “It’s a big footprint, and we always start from scratch — we never take over an existing building.”

The store’s grand opening on July 9 included a ribbon cutting and t-shirt giveaways to those who signed up for Portillo’s Birthday Club, through which members receive a complimentary slice of house-made, double-layer chocolate cake on their birthday.

“We try to make each opening special and fun,” Trevino says. “It’s a great way for us to get to know a lot of people in the community.”

Portillo’s also presented a $5,000 donation check at the opening to the Greenwood Education Foundation, founded in 2015 to provide grants to teachers and education administrators.

Trevino feels Portillo’s tried-and-true customer favorites, like its Italian beef and hot dogs, will be immediate hits in Greenwood but is confident that south side patrons will explore the menu in full.

“As time goes on we’ve seen that people like to try new things,” he says. “Our salads are really popular for people who want something a little lighter, and our burgers I think will really go over nicely on the south side as well.”

Portillo’s is located at 8150 US-31 in Greenwood. For additional info, visit portillos.com.

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