Lady Lake officials could barely contain their enthusiasm when Portillo’s restaurant representatives detailed plans for a new eatery.
“I have never seen so much interest in a restaurant in Lady Lake,” said Commissioner Ruth Kussard, who has served for well over a decade in the town’s government.
Portillo’s representatives on Monday evening showed renderings of the restaurant to be built on 3.51 acres along U.S. Hwy. 27/441, southeast of Tire Kingdom.
It is anticipated the Lady Lake Portillo’s will be finished by the end of 2024. A Portillo’s restaurant in Clermont is expected to open in December. Both Portillo’s restaurants will have the same modern design with red brick, stone block, glass walls, sconces and decorative mounted lights.
The Portillo’s representatives said drive-thru service makes up a huge part of the business at their restaurants. Nationwide, 60 percent of Portillo’s orders are placed and picked up through Portillo’s special double-lane drive-thru. When looking exclusively at Portillo’s Florida’s restaurants, the drive-thru portion of the business is a bit lower at 40 percent.
Company officials are planning 131 parking spaces at the restaurant and have carefully planned for “stacking” that might occur as cars place orders and wait for food in the drive-thru lanes. The Portillo’s representatives warned that drive-thru traffic can be especially heavy when new restaurants open.
Originally based exclusively in the Chicago area, Portillo’s now has locations in Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Florida, Arizona, Texas and California.
Mayor Jim Rietz, who lived in the Chicago area before moving to The Villages, is a big fan of Portillo’s.
“I have driven 1,150 miles just to get their beef. I am in,” the mayor said.