In 1963 Dick Portillo opened a hot dog stand on North Avenue in Villa Park.
Built with $1,100 that Portillo and his wife, Sharon, had saved for their first house, The Dog House was a 6’x12’ trailer without a bathroom or running water. Four years later, it was remodeled and renamed for its owner.
Since then, Portillo’s has grown into an enormously successful fast-casual restaurant chain with a wide-ranging menu of All-American favorites and highly regarded customer-service and business models. A multi-state operation that includes outposts in Southern California, Indiana and Arizona, the Portillo’s chain was sold to the private equity firm Berkshire Partners in 2014.
Dick Portillo will talk about his career and life with his good friend Lee Daniels, senior advisor to the president of Elmhurst College, during “From Hot Dogs to Top Dog: A Conversation With Dick Portillo,” on November 22 at Elmhurst College.
As a consultant, Portillo continues to be very much involved in the business as he helps guide its growth into Wisconsin, Florida and other states over the next several years. A recipient of numerous awards, he actively supports the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he once was stationed as a Marine; as well as the Chicago Diabetes Project, because of his wife’s struggle with the disease.
From Hot Dogs to Top Dog: A Conversation with Dick Portillo will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel. Admission is $10 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available online. For more information, call (630) 617-5186.