Piece by piece, the Quad-Cities' first Portillo's restaurant is taking shape.
Last month, construction crews began placing concrete to build the exterior of the restaurant on 53rd Street in Davenport, across from Costco Wholesale. Developer William Torchia said the Chicago-style hot dog and Italian beef restaurant should open by June.
"We've made significant progress this winter, moving a lot of dirt and demolishing all of the houses," Torchia said. "We're doing everything to make this happen, and it's coming along really well. We'll end up with five commercial lots on the site, and Portillo's will be kind of the center of development."
Portillo's is the first business to enter the construction phase. The other businesses in the retail development would open later in 2019, he said.
While other tenants are not yet finalized, he said the fast-food chain Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers will likely open next door. And, he's working on attracting a bank to the site.
"We're hoping to get the bank deal signed soon, and we're working on some other stuff as we speak," he said. "It's not far enough along to announce anything. We hope by spring we'll have all five lots committed to."
This past summer, the Davenport City Council approved plans for the development, rezoning 6.5 acres south of East 53rd Street and east of Lorton Avenue, from a residential corridor to a planned development district.
Nine homes were acquired and demolished, and some city property also was acquired.
The Davenport restaurant will be the first Iowa location for Portillo's. Once complete, company officials said in a news release, the restaurant will feature a diner-themed interior, drawing inspiration from decor of the 1950s and '60s.
The 9,000-square foot restaurant will seat more than 200 people, plus include an outdoor patio and a double-lane drive-thru.
Portillo's began in 1963 when Dick Portillo invested $1,100 into a small trailer to open a hot dog stand in Villa Park, Illinois. Now, Portillo's operates restaurants in more than 50 locations across several states, according to the release.
Thousands of Quad-City residents have for years been pleading for a Portillo's, including on a Facebook page called Bring Portillo’s to the Quad-Cities. But at the same time, the idea has been met with some protest from a few dozen neighbors around 53rd Street who are concerned about potentially increased traffic and flooding that they fear will come with the new businesses.
In September, a handful of those neighbors filed a lawsuit against the city concerning the re-zoning process that the Portillo's developer underwent. The suit alleges the city made several errors during that process, including failure to notify all affected residents and technical mistakes that conflict with the city’s zoning code.
The city has denied those claims. The parties are due to appear in court for a trial in July.