Portillo's expands operating hours, explores late night

Systemwide, restaurants will open 30 minutes earlier in the morning, and some units will stay open as late as 1 a.m.. local time.
Most Portillo's close at 10:30 p.m., but now some will stay open into the wee hours. | Photo: Shutterstock.

Portillo’s is extending business hours by opening restaurants earlier and, in some cases, staying open later.

The Chicago-based chain said Monday all 86 restaurants will now open at 10 a.m. local time, which is 30 minutes earlier than Portillo’s has opened historically. Before the shift, most restaurants opened at 10:30 a.m.

In addition, 15 restaurants across Illinois, Indiana, California, Arizona and Texas will extend their operating hours later into the evening, though the closing time varies by location. Most Portillo’s locations close at 10:30 p.m.

Now, however, some are staying open until 1 a.m. local time, for example, while others are closing between 10 p.m. and midnight.

It’s yet another example of restaurant chains that are extending operating hours, reversing years of tightening opening times following the pandemic, when staffing was a challenge—especially at later dayparts. Wendy’s, Jack in the Box and Denny’s have seen late-night business return, for example.

A Portillo’s unit in Naperville, Illinois, is among those staying open until 1 a.m. The high-volume location is near a train stop. Another in Homewood, Illinois, is near a Walmart Super Center that stays open until 11 p.m.

Portillo’s is focused in particular on building drive-thru sales, which CEO Michael Osanloo said tends to be more pressured when lower-income consumers are more challenged. The chain is working on improving throughput with better training to increase drive-thru speed.

During the first quarter, the fast-casual chain reported a 3.2% decline in transactions, which was blamed primarily on bad winter weather. Early in May, Osanloo said negative transaction trends were continuing into the second quarter.

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