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Portillo's coming to Schererville

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Hot dog, one of the most beloved fast-casual Chicagoland chains is coming to the Tri-Town area.

Portillo's, which has locations in Merrillville and Homewood, plans to come to Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville. 

"I was just informed from our town manager that Portillo's has submitted an application to build a small footprint restaurant with a drive-thru," Town Council member Kevin Connelly posted on social media. "The location is the same property as the Chick-fil-A."

Luke Family of Brands Development is building out the Oak District Development at 317 U.S. 41 on vacant land between Franciscan Health Fitness Center and Lowe's. It also will feature an Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Chick-fil-A that's already built out, with a future phase including a mix of retail, office and commercial space.

The massively popular Portillo's chain, best known for its Chicago-style hot dogs, Maxwell Street Polish, Italian beef and chocolate cake, has eyed a Schererville location since at least 2006. Oak Brook-based Portillo's, which has more than 60 locations, originally planned to open in Merrillville and Schererville at the same time.

A Portillo's originally was supposed to be located in developer Bruce Boyer's Shops on Main at the 16-acre site of the Schererville Golf and Fun Center, but the original slate of tenants fell through when the project was delayed by the Great Recession.

Portillo's got its start as The Dog House in Villa Park, Illinois, in 1963. It since has expanded across the Chicago metropolitan area and beyond with Indiana locations in Indianapolis, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Avon and Mishawaka.

The Merrillville location off U.S. 30 west of the Southlake Mall is so popular there's often a long line snaking through the double-lane drive-thru.

The menu of Chicagoland cuisine includes Chicago dogs, chili cheese dogs, charbroiled burgers, big beef sandwiches, beef-n-cheddar croissants, Italian sausage, sandwiches, salads, ribs, pasta, tamales, crinkle-cut fries, cheese fries and shakes. Some of its menu items have a cult following, such as its chocolate cake and cake shake.

Portillo's will go before the Schererville Board of Zoning Appeals on July 26 to ask for a use variance.

Connelly encouraged members of the public to express their opinion of the project by attending the meeting or by emailing Building and Planning Manager Denise Sulek at dsulek@schererville.org to have their comments read into the meeting minutes.

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