New Portillo’s in Algonquin celebrates grand opening, 60 years after 1st one debuted

‘It’s all about the experience,’ lifelong fan says

Michael Portillo spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Algonquin Portillo's on Nov. 28, 2023.

The area’s newest Portillo’s restaurant has officially opened off Randall Road in Algonquin.

The new location, at 1801 S. Randall Road, hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting event on Tuesday morning with the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Portillo’s vice president of restaurant support, Michael Portillo, whose father is founder Dick Portillo, spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony about the history of the business. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Portillo’s, which opened its first location in 1963 in Villa Park.

“It hits me, as it does every time we open a restaurant, that the stories, the memories that people have and share, that is what makes Portillo’s so special,” Michael Portillo said.

He took the opportunity of the grand opening to showcase what he said was the company’s dedication to local nonprofits. He presented two giant checks of $5,000 each to Algonquin Lake in the Hills Interfaith Food Pantry and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dundee Township.

No two Portillo’s locations are alike, Portillo said. The Algonquin location is called a “garage theme” with references to automobiles, car parts and tools scattered throughout the restaurant.

Plaques near the entrance showcase Algonquin’s history with pictures and notes about The Borden Milk Company and the establishment of the village in 1890.

The restaurant also has an outdoor patio area and a small “grab-and-go” gift shop with shirts, ornaments and stuffed animal wiener dogs.

The Algonquin Portillo’s employs over 130 people and serves about 1,500 customers each day, General Manager Paul Vanderbleek said. The restaurant has been open since Nov. 16.

The new hot dog joint is located in Kane County just south of the McHenry County line. The only McHenry County location is in Crystal Lake, according to the chain’s website. Portillo’s in among a spate of new businesses debuting this month in the village.

Algonquin Village President Debby Sosine said her goal is to have this Portillo’s be the most successful location.

Lifelong fan Pete Robinson also attended the cutting of the ribbon, which was shaped as a crinkle-cut fry. He has been to almost all 84 grand openings, with pins from each opening on his jacket that he made himself to prove it.

Robinson’s connection with Portillo’s started in 1964 when he visited the original “Dog House” location in Villa Park. Dick Portillo covered the tax on Robinson’s order since he was just a teenager at the time.

“It’s all about the experience,” he said. “I bring my grandchildren here.”

The location’s first customer was Sleepy Hollow resident Rich Reedy on Nov. 16. He said he didn’t realize they weren’t open yet when he tried the locked doors. The employees covered his entire meal to celebrate their first official customer.

“I’m just so excited that this is opening,” he said.