Portillo’s Springfield location, 3400 Freedom Dr., officially opens at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, becoming the 66th restaurant for the fast-casual restaurant based in Oak Brook, Illinois. The brand has existing central Illinois restaurants in Peoria, Champaign and Normal.
Mayor Jim Langfelder specifically requested that the Springfield location be the 66th to open, leading Portillo’s to push up an opening for a store in the Chicago suburbs prior to Springfield. The diner-style interior pays homage to Historic Route 66, and the 7,800-square-foot building is actually slightly smaller than Portillo’s typical 10,000-11,000 square foot restaurant.
The restaurant will initially open only for drive-thru or delivery, and Jeff Deppe, director of new restaurant operations for Portillo’s, said while he hopes to begin dine-in service sometime over the winter, there is no firm date for that due to the uncertainly resulting from COVID-19. Portillo’s is now offering “self-delivery,” meaning its own employees deliver within a three-mile radius of the restaurant, rather than partnering with third-party providers, in order to insure the same level of customer service. The new location will employ 16 drivers, in anticipation of a strong demand for delivery service.
While the Parkway Pointe area is already notorious for traffic jams, Deppe said Portillo’s is working closely with the City of Springfield and has hired traffic wardens to help keep vehicles moving efficiently at the location. To reduce congestion, traffic is being routed one-way through the parking lot and left turns are not permitted when exiting.