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Portillo’s Reigns As Most Popular Restaurant Chain in Illinois, Says Facebook

Who else is in the top 10?

Portillo’s in River North
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.

Restaurants can use Facebook user data for all types of fun, and one company has crunched numbers to determine the most popular regional restaurant chains in all 50 states. In Illinois, Eater Chicago 38 member Portillo’s took home the crown with the most Facebook likes with 370,000. That’s 70,000 more than Culver’s which placed No. 2, according to Wisely.

Portillo’s is known for their hot dogs and Italian beefs. This honor isn’t exactly a Beard Award, but Portillo’s spokesman Nick Scarpino will take it: “It’s always an honor to be on top of these types of lists,” he said.

Overall, Portillo’s counts almost 800,000 Facebook likes across the world divided up amongst its 47 locations. That’s a valuable communications tool. For example, of the many factors behind opening a new location in Tampa, Fla., one was due to the high number of Facebook requests, Scarpino said. Beyond Facebook, Scarpino described a Reddit post where a man offered $300 for a recipe or piece of Portillo’s lemon cake. The cake hasn’t been on the menu in years. Other Reddit users contacted Portillo’s and the chain sent a cake and recipe over to the original poster, asking him to donate the $300 to charity. The episode ignited so much interest in the cake that Portillo’s may bring it back for a limited time over the summer, Scarpino said.

A little about the methodology: Wisely, a hospitality software company, collected data from the Facebook advertising platform and included info from more than 300 regional chains. They then determined the chain’s overall Facebook audience and broke it down by state.

Illinois was the rare state that Culver’s didn’t win in the Midwest. The Land of Lincoln is surrounded by butterburger lovers. Here are the top ten for Illinois, which includes two “breastaurants.”:

  1. Portillo's: 370,000
  2. Culver's: 300,000
  3. Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery: 90,000
  4. Potbelly Sandwich Works: 69,000
  5. Giordano's Pizzeria: 62,000
  6. Shake Shack: 55,000
  7. Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant: 54,000
  8. Gino's East: 39,000
  9. Blaze Pizza: 27,000
  10. Twin Peaks: 22,000


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