Portillo’s Sold to Boston Private Equity Firm Berkshire Partners

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Oak Brook-based Portillo Restaurant Group Inc. confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that it has agreed to sell its restaurant chain to Berkshire Partners, a private equity firm in Boston — not to be confused with Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., a holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska and controlled by Chairman, President and CEO Warren Buffett.

Berkshire Partners of Boston said in a statement that the private equity firm will work closely with Dick Portillo, founder of Portillo’s, to support the growth of the company.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but numerous reports claim it could be about $1 billion. Bershire Partners total assets is $11 billion.

“Portillo’s is my life’s work and I remain committed to ensuring the continued growth and success of the business. I was seeking an experienced partner that shared our vision for the company and an appreciation for our culture. After careful consideration, Berkshire Partners proved to be the best choice. I look forward to working together to further strengthen our company.”

— Dick Portillo

Dick Portillo started Portillo’s in a small trailer in Villa Park in 1963. Portillo’s has grown to average more than $8 million in sales per store annually.

Portillo’s is famous for its Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches and different historical era décor of its various dining rooms. There is one Portillo’s in Arlington Heights (’20’s era), but several more Portillo’s are located nearby in Rolling Meadows at Golf Road and New Wilke Rd (’50s – ’60s era), in Schaumburg on Golf Road just west of Plum Grove Road (’50s – ’60s era), and Elk Grove Village on Busse Road just south of Greenleaf Avenue (’50s – ’60s era).

Under Portillo’s leadership, Portillo’s has experienced significant growth over the past 50 years and currently operates 38 locations across Illinois, Indiana, California and Arizona. Two new locations opened in Arizona just last year, and now we can expect the Portillo’s name to expand nationwide.

“Portillo’s is a highly differentiated restaurant with a passionate customer base. In addition to great food, the Portillo’s name stands for quality and service. We are looking forward to working with Dick and his management team to uphold their culture of excellence. We see great potential in the business and share Dick’s vision to methodically expand operations in Chicago and beyond.”

— Josh Lutzker, managing director at Berkshire Partners

Since its inception in 1984, Berkshire Partners has invested in over 100 companies and developed specific industry experience in several areas including retailing, consumer products, manufacturing, transportation, energy, business services and communications.

Previous food interests in the equity portfolio include …

Farm Boy grocery retailer specializing in fresh foods.

Grocery Outlet … specializing in fresh foods.

Papa Gino’s pizza (formerly held)

Fresh Start Bakeries supplier of buns for McDonald’s (formerly held)

Carlin Foods food ingredients (formerly held)

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