qcportillos

There's just something about chocolate cake and Italian beef that's making Quad-Citians hit the like button. 

Not just any cake, however. A Facebook page rallying around Portillo's, a wildly popular restaurant chain based in the Chicago area was created Friday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the page, Bring Portillo's to the Quad-Cities, has gained more than 13,000 likes — and counting. 

Christopher Glass and Dewayne Stropes, both Moline residents, created the page after the company announced it would open locations around the Midwest, including one in Normal, Ill.

Their goal was to hit the 500-like mark. 

"We surpassed that in a few hours," Glass said. "It's crazy how quickly it blew up and just kept going and going — it shows that it wasn't just something a few people want." 

A Facebook page for the Normal location gained about 6,000 likes over a few years, he said. 

"People in the Quad-Cities feel strongly about this more than any other area," said Glass, who grew up in Rockford and visited Portillo's often. "It's a melting pot of people here who grew up near Chicago, so it would be great to bring that hometown food here." 

Glass and Stropes have received hundreds of posts and messages with suggestions of where the #PortillosQC should be located. They started an online poll Tuesday morning to see where allegiances are stacking up. 

"It seems like everyone has an opinion about it and has memories of going there," Stropes, who is 22 and works at Deere & Co., said. "For me, if I'm anywhere near Chicago, I'm going to make a trip to Portillo's." 

And the page is getting attention from the higher-ups at Portillo's.

Nick Scarpino, Portillo's spokesman, said the Quad-Cities have generated "a lot of excitement." 

"We couldn’t be more thrilled to see our passionate fans create a campaign to bring us to the area," Scarpino said via email Tuesday. "We have seen the rapid growth of the Facebook page and we have seen all the mentions in the press. The movement has successfully gotten our attention."

For Glass, and the swelling number of "likers" on the Facebook page, that means: "goal almost accomplished." 

"They've seen the numbers and they're impressed," he said. "That was our goal, but we're going to keep it going."

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He's hoping the hometown advantage is on their side. Keith Kinsey, Portillo's CEO, is a Moline native. 

Glass said he's been waiting for a Portillo's to open in the Q-C for years. 

According to Scarpino, any kind of announcement would likely involve more waiting. 

"It takes a long time to build a Portillo’s — from site selection with our unique criteria, to building from the ground up, to staffing and training," Scarpino said. "It’s not a quick process. But we’re open to exploring opportunities in the Quad Cities further."

For now, Glass wants to keep the momentum going. 

"We want Portillo’s to go on record with a location," Glass said. "That would make a lot of people happy." 

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Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).