1. Business

Portillo's plans second area store at University Mall

Portillo’s, a chain that originated in Chicago, is know for its beef sandwiches and its Chicago-style hot dogs. It plans to open its second Hillsborough restaurant outside of University Mall. 
Published Jul. 13, 2016

UNIVERSITY AREA — Just a few months after a Chicagoland tradition chose Brandon for its first Florida restaurant, Portillo's has announced plans for a second location in Tampa.

The famous hot dog restaurant is expected to open in late September in front of University Mall where a former Firestone Complete Auto Care once stood on Fowler Avenue.

"Floridians have shown us that Portillo's has made a new home in Florida, and we are excited to open the doors of our second restaurant this fall," said Nick Scarpino, director of marketing for Portillo's. "We are very proud of our Brandon team for providing thousands and thousands of Floridians the true Portillo's experience."

That experience includes a hot dog building assembly line with a 1930s prohibition theme, but don't worry, Portillo's will offer its patrons beer. Named after Dick Portillo, who started the chain in 1963, the restaurant's namesake recommends the Italian beef, which is shipped from Chicago, and his favorite beef-n-sausage sandwich. The restaurant also offers ribs, tamales, salads and desserts among its more than 40 menu items.

The Tampa Portillo's will seat nearly 200 guests inside and another 60 on an outdoor patio. There will be a double drive thru lane to accommodate as many guests as possible.

Scarpino said that Portillo's will announce an official opening date soon, but in the meantime the restaurant is hiring up to 200 new employees. Candidates can apply at

Mall also brings on Miller's Ale House

In addition to the Portillo's addition to the University Mall plaza, Miller's Ale House also is slated to open on-site later this year. The restaurant features steak, seafood and Buffalo wings along with its popular Zingers boneless wings and homemade desserts. The bar is full-service and offers more than 75 beers, as well as wine and liquor.

Inside the mall, Soho Fashions opened earlier in July. The retailer offers hair extensions along with crystal and decorative hair accessories from California.

Other stores new to University Mall this year include Peeples Diamonds & Co. and a watch repair store. As its name indicates, Peeples Diamonds is a jewelry store that touts reasonably priced diamonds.

"University Mall has become home to several new stores since the start of the new year," said Roger Hirschhorn, senior vice president at RD Management that oversees the mall's retail activities. "The mall serves hundreds of thousands in the greater Tampa Bay region, and as part of its redevelopment into a mixed-use hub, we anticipate more retail and dining openings this fall."

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