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Portillo’s aims high with IPO at $20 per share

The 67-unit fast casual, with a menu of regional Chicago fare like hot dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches, will offer more than 20 million shares for sale starting Thursday.
Photo courtesy Portillo's

Portillo’s, the regional Chicago chain known for hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, set its stock price at $20 a share late Wednesday —the high end of its proposed range—as it prepares to begin trading on NASDAQ Thursday.

The 67-unit fast casual based in Oak Brook, Ill., intends to sell nearly 20.3 million shares in its initial public offering, trading under the ticker symbol PTLO. It has also granted a 30-day option to purchase up to just over 3 million additional shares at the IPO price.

Earlier this month, Portillo’s said it would price its shares between $17 and $20. In opting for the higher price, the 58-year-old brand signals confidence in its offering.

The stock was trading at nearly $29 a share by late morning Thursday.

The chain has previously said it plans to use its IPO proceeds to pay off the bulk of its $470 million debt.

On Thursday, Portillo’s becomes the fourth restaurant chain to go public this year, joining a list that includes Krispy Kreme, Dutch Bros and First Watch. Sweetgreen has also said it intends to go public.

The regional chain, which Dick Portillo launched near Chicago in 1963 in a trailer without running water, detailed aggressive growth plans in its filing, outlining its goal to swell to more than 600 units by 2046 and calling itself “well-positioned for global growth in the future.”

In 2014, the then-38-unit brand was purchased by private equity firm Berkshire Partners for nearly $1 billion. Six months after that transaction, Portillo bought back some of the chain’s real estate, acquiring 18 of his namesake restaurants and two food commissaries under 20-year leases.

Today, Portillo’s has restaurants in seven states.

The chain steered itself through the pandemic largely on the strength of its drive-thrus, which grew from $3.4 million in revenue per unit in 2019 to $4.9 million today—a significant chunk of the company’s $7.9 million average unit volumes. Locations near Portillo’s home market posted AUVs of $9.1 million.

Portillo’s is preparing to open a half-size restaurant this winter in Joliet, Ill., that includes three drive-thru lanes but no indoor seating. The 3,750-square-foot prototype “opens up a lot of new avenues for us,” the chain’s VP of real estate previously told Restaurant Business.

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