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Portillo’s Is Trying to Keep Prices Down Despite High Inflation

Plus, a former Bulls player was arrested at a downtown McDonald’s

A huge Italian beef sandwich
Portillo’s is trying to make sense of this world of high inflation.
Portillo’s [Official Photo]
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.

Sales are up at Portillo’s, the suburban Chicago chain with a die-hard fanbase. But profits are down as the costs of food have surged for all restaurants.

Crain’s cites the increasing costs of meat, labor, and new construction as culprits for the drop in profits, which plunged by 51 percent. The numbers came from a third-quarter earnings call last week.

Portillo’s reports its prices have jumped by 8.1 percent versus the same time in 2021. That’s less than federal numbers, which show the price of food at home surging to 8.5 percent in September compared to 2021.

The chain’s strategy has been to control customer costs while inflation take holds around the country. Portillo’s main offering, Italian beef, has had a moment thanks to FX’s The Bear. Portillo’s is one of the rare chains that sell the authentic sandwich outside of Illinois.

Crust Fund Pizza raises record amount

Crust Fund Pizza, the pop-up that raises money for various Chicago nonprofits, hauled in a record amount last week thanks to Manny’s Deli. The pastrami and rye thin-crust pizza helped bring in $2,540, which outpaces the previous high by $800, says Crust Fund’s John Carruthers. The pop-up was held on Thursday, November 3, and benefitted the Illinois Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

Former Bulls player arrested at downtown McDonald’s

A former Chicago Bull sharpshooter was arrested over the weekend and accused of punching a security guard at a River North McDonald’s.

Ben Gordon, who played for the Bulls from 2005 to 2009, was charged with misdemeanor battery causing bodily harm and battery making physical contact. Police say the 39-year-old punched a security guard in the face around 3:30 a.m. Friday, November 25 at the flagship McDonald’s, 600 N. Clark Street. The Tribune also reports that Gordon threw down another man while he was escorted out of the downtown fast-food restaurant, one of the few remaining spots open past midnight in Chicago following pandemic mitigations.

Gordon has encountered challenges after his retirement in 2015 from the NBA. In a 2020 essay in The Player’s Tribune, he details how mounting pressures affected his mental health. The weekend arrest was Gordon’s second in recent weeks. He was arrested and charged in October after allegedly punching his 10-year-old son at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.