DAVENPORT-- The day some never thought would come is just a few weeks away; Portillo's serving up Chicago style favorites in the Quad Cities. On Tuesday, April 16, 2019, WQAD Channel 8 got a sneak peak inside the building and learned just how much influence a Quad Cities social media campaign had on bringing the restaurant to Iowa for the first time.
Every die-hard Portillo's fan has their favorite food. Fan Dave Levora's choice on Tuesday is an Italian beef.
"It tastes like a dream come true," says Levora.
Eating a Portillo's sandwich in Davenport is something Levora will tell you, he never dreamed of actually happening.
"I never thought it would happen. I thought people were wasting their time lobbying this place to come here, and now it's here," says Levora.
He's talking about a Facebook page started by a Quad city man that now has more than 16,000 likes. The page was made to gather a Portillo's fan base to try and bring the restaurant to the QC.
The social media support actually worked.
"Most definitely. They told us we're going to do well here, and when we have a community reach out to us, I think if you don't pay attention to that, you're not making a good decision. So it made it an easy choice for us," says Portillo's Director of New Restaurant Operations Jeff Deppe.
Now seated on 53rd Street across from Costco, workers put the finishing touches on "Daven-portillo's." It's the 60th Portillo's to open, and it's the first ever in Iowa. Even the decor inside has a Hawkeye twist.
"You're going to start seeing more and more pop up in Iowa," says Deppe.
The restaurant of dreams is now made possible by the fans, a feat some skeptics never thought was possible.
"They were right. I was wrong. And I'm enjoying Italian beef. In a way everybody wins," says Levora.
The restaurant announced it's looking to hire 200-250 new employees. The interview process has already started at the Homewood Suites in Davenport from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Portillo's in Davenport is set for June 2019.