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Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
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Iconic Chicago restaurant consoles Lightning fans in Tampa location announcement

Local fans may still be reeling from the Lightning’s loss to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final, but a famous Chicago restaurant is extending an olive branch south with a letter reading “Cheer up Tampa, there’s good news from Chicago today.”

Portillo’s, an iconic chain from Chicago that specializes in hot dogs, Italian beef and burgers, is opening a location in Tampa, according to a letter posted the restaurant’s website.

“It’s official. Portillo’s is coming to Tampa in 2016. Tampa residents spent years peppering us with requests to build a restaurant — you really put us in a pickle. So we’re thrilled we’re finally making our way to Florida,” the letter says.

“Let’s be frank: No matter whose jersey you’re wearing, everyone will be welcome. We hope you don’t have a beef against us or our hometown team.”

Portillo’s operates more than 30 locations in Illinois as well as one in Indiana, two in Arizona and two in southern California. A Tampa location would mark the chain’s first expansion outside those states.

The company has not announced where in Tampa the new restaurant will be located.

Portillo’s roots go back to 1963 when Dick Portillo opened a hot dog stand known as The Dog House on North Avenue in Chicago.

The restaurant’s signature item, a Chicago-style hot dog, comes topped with mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun, and costs $2.85 at Chicago locations.

Other celebrated items include their Italian beef sandwich ($5.69), another Chicago specialty, which includes specially-seasoned, sliced roast beef, dripping with meat juices on an Italian roll, and their beef-n-cheddar croissant ($5.89), which is an Italian beef layered with cheese and served on a croissant.

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