Shares will trade on the Nasdaq ,Global Select Market under the symbol PTLO

Portillo’s is expected to go public Thursday and raise $405.4 million with its initial public offering.

The Oak Brook-based fast casual chain offered nearly 20.3 million shares of its stock at $20 per share — a little less than the cost of three Italian beef sandwiches, Portillo’s said in a news release Wednesday evening.

Shares will trade on the Nasdaq , Global Select Market under the symbol PTLO, the company said.

Portillo’s announced plans to go public earlier this summer and said it believes it could eventually grow from 67 restaurants to more than 600 over the next 25 years, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

It also touted its “passionate (some might say obsessed)” customer base in those documents, which included a selection of their tweets about the brand, including “I’m gonna baptize my first born child in Portillo’s melted cheese.”

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The beloved chain ships food to customers in all 50 states and recently began putting its brand on a wide range of new merchandise, including Portillo’s-themed swimsuits, pool floats and a “G is for Giardiniera” alphabet book.





Couples who share a love of its food can book professional engagement photography sessions at its restaurants that come with crew neck sweatshirts reading “I only have fries for you” and “the cake to my shake.” The “Newlywed Spread” late-night wedding catering package includes a cheese sauce fountain for those who prefer its cheese fries to chocolate fondue.

Even Chicago Sky star Candace Parker’s a fan, giving her preferred order at a news conference earlier this year: fish sandwich with cheese, jumbo chili cheese dog with no onions, fries and a cake shake with a slice of chocolate cake to go for later.

Some say they want to purchase shares, not just sandwiches, once they have the option.

“I looked into the prospectus, and there’s good growth. … I think it’s a brand that could take off, selling that Chicago taste all over the country,” said Kamil Krawczyk, 35, of Arlington Heights.

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He started day trading while staying home to take care of his son during the pandemic and is a fan of Portillo’s hot dogs and Maxwell Street Polish sausage.

Others planning to buy shares once the company goes public just want a piece of a favorite chain. When Kathy Trojak heard about the IPO, she knew she wanted to give her son Jesse shares as a Christmas gift, just like she’d once given her Green Bay Packers-loving father shares in the team.

Jesse, 23, loves Portillo’s fries. He’s on the autism spectrum, and when he was younger, the family made a project of visiting every Portillo’s restaurant in Illinois — about 30 at the time, said Trojak, who lives in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood.

“We could use a few dividends back from Portillo’s,” she joked.

The average customer probably couldn’t buy in at the initial offering price. In an IPO, most shares are allocated to large institutional investors such as mutual funds and money management firms and deep-pocketed clients of some of the banks taking the company public, said Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride.

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Some fintech apps such as Robinhood give users access to IPOs, but they would likely have a lot more interested buyers than shares and might award the option to purchase them at random, he said.

Once a company goes public and its shares begin trading, anyone can purchase them as they would any other stock, McBride said.

When Portillo’s got its start in 1963, founder Dick Portillo was selling hot dogs from a trailer, then called The Dog House, in a parking lot in Villa Park.

Today the company has 67 restaurants across nine states, up from 40 locations in 2015, one year after Portillo sold the chain to private equity firm Berkshire Partners.

Cindy Waidanz, 64, of Lombard, grew up about three blocks from original location, when you could get a meal for $1.50. She remembers going there to get lunch with her mom and her mom’s friends as a kid. Now, she brings hot dogs and cheese fries when going to visit her daughter in Kentucky “for a taste of home.”

“It’s not the little company it used to be, but it’s really a success story for someone who came from this area, and I think people like that,” she said.

Portillo’s revenues were an estimated $138 million during the quarter that ended Sept. 26, up about 15.3% compared with the same period last year, due to an increase in the average order size and five new restaurant openings, according to regulatory filings.

The chain aims to grow its number of restaurants by about 10% a year and said it believes it could eventually grow from 67 locations to more than 600 over the next 25 years.

Fast casual restaurants like Portillo’s didn’t suffer as much as the overall restaurant industry during the pandemic and have been bouncing back, said David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic, a Chicago-based food service research and consulting firm.

The $62.1 billion fast casual industry is expected to be about 4% larger than it was in 2019 by the end of the year, according to Technomic, which predicted 9% growth next year.

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A lot of that growth is expected to come from drive-thru and other takeout orders, which surged during the pandemic, Henkes said.

At Portillo’s, the average restaurant’s dine-in sales dropping from $4.4 million in 2019 to $1.9 million during the year that ended June 27, according to the filing. Drive-thru sales, however, rose from $3.4 million to $4.9 million and delivery sales jumped from $500,000 to $850,000.

Each Portillo’s averaged $7.9 million in revenue during the year that ended June 27, which is “out of this world” and more than double the sales of a typical McDonald’s or Chipotle, said Sean Dunlop, an equity analyst at Morningstar who covers the restaurant industry.

Chicago-area Portillo’s fared even better, averaging $9.1 million.

That’s in part because Portillo’s restaurants are bigger than other chains, and nearly all locations have double-lane drive-thrus. Henkes also attributed it to “craveable foods” and efficient operations.

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“They’re a well-oiled machine, when you look at the amount of business that goes through the drive-thru,” he said.

The challenge will be whether they can maintain those strong sales and margins as they expand to areas without a natural fondness for Chicago-style dogs and base of loyal customers, Dunlop said.

The company will also be facing industrywide challenges, including labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and cost increases.

Fans in Portillo’s-less cities are eager to see the company expand. On a recent Facebook post announcing a new Portillo’s in Madison, Wisconsin, commenters put in requests for cities across 17 states.Dallas has a 743-person Facebook group campaigning for a restaurant called “Portillo’s wanted in DFW.” Founder Nancy Boyce, 65, grew up going to the hot dog stand in Villa Park but now lives in Grapevine, Texas.

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“We all miss our foods, and we want to bring Chicago food here in Texas,” she said.

Some local customers, meanwhile, worried too much growth could change a local favorite, saying they thought they’d tasted changes after Dick Portillo sold the company in 2014.

“That’s my fear, because they’re such an iconic Chicago restaurant. If it gets too big too quick, it could hurt the brand,” said Barb Arrate, 50.

Arrate first visited Portillo’s about 30 years ago on one of her first dates with her now-husband Tony in Villa Park.

“It was the best hot dog I’ve had, hands down,” she said.

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They don’t eat there as often now that they live in Spring Valley, about an hour away from Peoria and the nearest Portillo’s. Despite her concerns, she’s considering investing.

“If I can’t have a piece of chocolate cake, at least I’ll have a piece of the building,” she said.

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