Maple Grove reverses course, approves Portillo’s
An iconic restaurant chain from the Windy City could soon be blowing into Maple Grove. On Monday night Portillo's received the initial okay from the Maple Grove City Council to build on a parking lot near the main entrance of the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes. 

"It's nice to have that type of entity come to your community," said Maple Grove Mayor Mark Steffenson. "It will certainly be a draw from 20, 30 miles away or further."

Maple Grove City Council members Karen Jaeger and Judy Hanson previously rejected Portillo's because of traffic and parking concerns. Monday night they changed their votes.

"We've been through this before with traffic issues, such as Krispy Kreme," Jaeger said. "That was a scene to behold."

Portillo's has been in business for 54 years. They have four to eight employees who deal with traffic management and speedy food delivery. The Maple Grove facility is set to handle up to 50 cars at one time, which is similar to how it's done in Chicago.

"I must admit it was very efficient," said council member Phil Leith, who visited a busy Portillo's in Chicago, similar to the size that will be built in Maple Grove. "It never filtered out, it never came out of the drive-through. They did a good job at moving them through."

After the initial rejection, council members say they received hate mail and plenty of criticism on social media.

"They threatened that they would not vote for us and how stupid we are," Jaeger said. "We don't know anything. Just berating us."

But now, things should simmer down. Portillo's is expected to come after a final vote on May 1. The restaurant could be open by November.

"I think it says and recognizes that we're a great place for them to do business," Steffenson said. "It's a great location for restaurants. It's a great location for businesses."

"When I heard Portillo's was coming to Maple Grove," said resident Doreen Ritchey. "I thought it was the best thing that could have happened to Maple Grove."

The arrival of Portillo's is expected to create more than 100 jobs. Another Portillo's is being built in Woodbury and opens in July.

Eric Nelson, reporting

April 18, 2017


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