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Chicago Restaurant Chains Preparing To Display Calorie Counts

Government will require chains to post calorie counts by May 2017

McDonald's nutrition facts
McDonald's nutrition facts
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Would knowing the number of calories prevent Portillo's customers from ordering an Italian beef/Italian sausage Chicago combo? Next year, the government will finally mandate restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards. Many, like McDonald's, Panera, Subway and Dunkin' Donuts have already made the move, the Tribune noted. Potbelly Sandwich Shop also already posts calories.

The Trib talked with Portillo's, and their rep said they're still trying to figure out a menu design, as their chalkboard menu displays are part of their branding and integral to the look of their 42 restaurants. Naf Naf Grill currently operates 18 Chicagoland locations, but have plans for more restaurants that would trigger the federal mandate. A rep from the shawarma specialists told the Trib that they believe in "nutritional transparency," which means the rule will have little affect on their expansion plans.

Other Chicago-area chains that could be affected with more than 20 locations include Mr. Submarine and deep-dish chains Giordano's and Lou Malnati's. The changes would go into affect by May 2017. The federal government approved the menu requirements in 2010 as part of the initial rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more colloquially known as Obamacare. But, as with other aspects of the ACA, political bickering stymied the law's full implementation.