Loaded hot dog with fresh vegetables (tomatoes, Pickle, chopped onions, sport peppers, red ripe tomatoes and relish) with a soda sitting at Portillo's.

(The Center Square) – A Chicago-based restaurant chain is expanding, but not in Illinois. 

With headquarters in Oak Brook, Portillo’s has over 40 locations around Chicago and four downstate – one each in Normal, Springfield, Peoria and Champaign.

In what appears to be an indirect swipe at Illinois, Portillo’s CEO Michael Osanloo said they are opening new locations in Arizona, Texas and Florida for several reasons. 

“We’re going to places where the population is growing, where the economies are healthy, where there is a great environment for companies, and where maybe the labor situation is not quite as challenging in some other markets,” Osanloo told Yahoo! Finance.  

Portillo’s was founded in 1963 by Dick Portillo, who named his first restaurant “The Dog House.” He opened his first drive-thru in 1983 in Downers Grove. The company filed to go public in 2021.  

Osanloo said in April of this year that Portillo’s opened a location in Florida with a goal of hiring over 100 people.

“Sometimes you can hire people and you’re hiring anybody who walks in, but we’re very selective, so we have a pretty high bar for what we look for, and we had no problem hiring in St. Petersburg,” he said.    

Some companies have chosen to pack and leave Illinois. Billionaire Ken Griffin was one of them, taking his company Citadel to Florida. Just before he left, he told the Economic Club of Chicago that crime would be a driving factor for leaving and blamed Gov. J.B. Pritzker for sitting on the sidelines. 

“It is a disgrace that our governor will not insert himself into the challenge in addressing crime in our city,” Griffin said.  

In June, Caterpillar moved its corporate headquarters out of Illinois to Texas. The construction equipment giant was the second major company to leave the state in five weeks after Boeing also announced they were moving their headquarters to Virginia. 

Based on a survey in April by Chief Executive magazine of 700 CEOs and business owners from every state, Illinois ranked 48th in the country for best business states.  

According to the survey, Texas, Florida and Tennessee are the top three states for businesses. The author said the combination of a fast-growth population and a low-tax, low-regulation business climate is a “proven catnip for companies.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.