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Portillo’s Defends Itself From Cockroach Accusations From Ex-Employee

The worker was fired over the holidays

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.

Portillo’s, the iconic Chicago street food chain, is defending itself after a former employee at its flagship downtown location claimed the restaurant was infested with roaches. The worker also shared a video with WGN TV showing bugs inside. A spokesperson said health department officials visited Portillo’s, 100 W. Ontario Street, as recently as Friday. It passed its most recent health department inspection on record in April.

The worker, Antwoine Johnson, told WGN that he saw insects three to four times a day in food preparation areas and “crawling into food.” He claimed supervisors ignored his requests for something to be done. A spokesperson for Portillo’s said they take pest control seriously. Pest control crews visit at least twice a month.

Johnson said he was fired during the holidays for excessive absences after his mother and brother died. Portillo’s said police escorted him off premises after he flipped over a table during a meeting and caused a “disturbance” at the restaurant.

The chain, known for its hot dogs, Italian beefs, and chocolate cake shakes, has been around since since 1963. It started as a hot dog stand in suburban Villa Park.


520 West Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 667-4560 Visit Website