A dreaded pest, a dead tree, and a neighborhood library rises from the ash

An artist’s rendering of the new Portillo’s restaurant 
planned at Halsted and 175th streets in Homewood. 

(Image provided)


Portillo’s restaurant on the southwest corner of Halsted and 175th streets. The new restaurant is expected to employ 80 to 100 people, according to Rich Pozzi, Portillo’s project manager for the Homewood restaurant.

The Board of Trustees approved amendments to the current planned unit development plat to accommodate the building and grounds design proposed by Portillo’s.

This image shows the layout
of the business on the
southwest corner of Halsted
and 175th streets.

One amendment accounted for a change in the location of the building, which will be situated north of the former Shooters restaurant.

The shift is necessary to make room for the dual-lane drive-through planned by Portillo’s. Locating the drive-through on the Halsted side of the building wouldn’t have been allowed by the existing PUD rules.

Pozzi said the drive-through design is something the company is especially proud of. He noted that 40 to 45 percent of Portillo’s business comes from drive-through customers, and the two lane design helps keep traffic flowing.

Portillo’s design met with approval through each step of the process. Village Manager Jim Marino said the plan was reviewed and approved by the Site Plan Review Committee, the Plan Commission, the Zone Board of Appeals and the Appearance Commission.

Pozzi explained that the new restaurant would seat 190 people indoors and have a patio with seating for 42. 
Designer Jeffery Atkins of Mercury Studios described the new building’s look and features in more detail. 

He said this restaurant will be among the first using a new layout that puts the entire operation on one level. Atkins said most Portillo’s restaurants have a basement or a mezzanine level.
He noted the exterior of the building would have “ghost” signage, faded images that are designed to look old. 

He said Portillo’s had discussed ideas for what images to include with Jim Wright, president of the Homewood Historical Society. Atkins said the project team was excited by Wright’s suggestions, which include photos of the Washington Park Racetrack that once was on the site of the shopping area west of Halsted between 175th and 183rd Streets.

Atkins said giving the building an identity that connects with local history is something the company loves to do when possible.

Trustee Ray Robertson asked whether the ghost signage would require an zoning ordinance amendment. 

Atkins clarified that the ghost signage would be ornamental rather than commercial. Village Attorney Chris Cummings said he could check further but didn’t think that type of image would require an amendment. 

Trustee Karen Washington asked for clarification on the location of the main entrance. Atkins said it will be on the west side of the building, facing away from Halsted Street, but that is necessary for safety reasons. The entrance will be adjacent to the parking lot, so patrons will not have to cross or even get near the drive-through lanes.  

Atkins said the company is currently seeking bids for construction and is hoping to begin in a few weeks. Demolition of the former Shooters restaurant began Wednesday morning.
Trustees expressed enthusiasm for the project. 

“We just want you to open,” Barbara Dawkins said. Lisa Purcell told the Portillo’s representatives the announcement has generated “the most enthusiasm” she’s heard from residents.


Related story:
Mayor: Portillo’s coming to Homewood (The Chronicle, Feb. 27, 2015)

Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]

Demolition of the former Shooters restaurant begins 
Wednesday morning.
(Photo by Quinn Crump/The Chronicle)


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