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Will Lines Form Just Like Whataburger If Chicago Hot Dog Chain Portillo’s Opens in Atlanta?

Suburban Chicago-based Portillo’s is eyeing the Atlanta area and Georgia for expansion in the South

Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

Another popular restaurant chain could be headed to metro Atlanta and Georgia, this time slinging Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Suburban Chicago-based Portillo’s is eyeing the Atlanta area and state of Georgia for expansion in the Southeast, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

While specific locations have yet to be targeted, or an exact ETA given for opening the first Portillo’s, the company is considering opening between six and eight restaurants within a metropolitan area in the state. In addition to Georgia, Portillo’s is setting its sights on Houston, Nevada, and Colorado for new locations over the next year. Portillo’s opened its first Dallas location in January, where hour-long lines stretched around the block even a month after opening at the Grandscape in the Colony.

Unfamiliar with Portillo’s? It all started in 1963 with Dick Portillo and his hot dog stand in Villa Park in the Chicago suburbs. Since that time, Portillo’s has grown into a multi-location, billon-dollar restaurant chain serving Chicago-style hot dogs (yellow mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, tomatoes, pickle spear, and peppers), chili dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches (like from the Bear), along with cheese fries, shakes, and chocolate cake. Whether or not these hot dogs are actually worth the drive in Atlanta traffic or time spent standing in line remains to be seen.

Portillo’s is just the latest popular restaurant chain to expand to Atlanta and Georgia, which now includes New York-based Shake Shack and Texas-based burger chain Whataburger. The Kennesaw debut of Whataburger last November saw traffic backed up onto Townpark Lane for the drive-thru and lines out the door to order at the counter for weeks. Police even ended up directing traffic during its first few days open. Similar lines occurred for the openings of Whataburger in Woodstock and Newnan.

Vegan restaurant chain Planta opened in June at Krog Street Market, taking over the former Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits space. A location of Texas-based chain Shipley Do-Nuts is now open in Cumming, with another location headed to Duluth, while locations of Florida-based doughnut chain the Salty are now open in Buckhead and the Old Fourth Ward.

Canadian-based coffee and sandwich chain Tim Hortons should open across from the Varsity in Midtown soon. And wildly popular northeastern convenience store chain Wawa also plans to open its first location in Georgia by 2024. Wawa is known for its hoagies, Sizzlis breakfast sandwiches, and the chain’s coffee. The company indicated as many as 20 new stores could open around Georgia in the next decade, likely in “southern and coastal” areas of the state near I-95.