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Portillo’s new owners start Fla. expansion

Chicago-based restaurant chain Portillo's will open its first Florida location in March 2016 in Brandon, but other locations -- including a possible expansion into Central Florida -- could follow.

"Brandon is our first entry point and hopefully it goes well and we'll open more stores," said Nick Scarpino, Portillo's director of marketing.

Portillo's first location in Florida will be at Brandon Boulevard (State Road 60) and Lakewood Drive, less than 10 miles from downtown Tampa.

"When we've looked to expand over the years, we look at places with a lot of former Chicago residents," Scarpino said. "The Tampa area has that."

A Chicago-area staple since 1963, the fast casual chain specializes in hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, but also serves burgers, sandwiches and salads, along with chocolate cake, a customer favorite.

There are 39 locations in the Chicago area and two each in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Portillo's offers food shipping to anywhere in the U.S. Scarpino said the company uses shipping orders to help determine where it should expand, along with general inquiries and demand.

"We've seen a lot of demand in Tampa," he said. 

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