- Portillo’s has hired Mike Ellis as chief development officer, replacing chief development and supply chain officer Sherri Abruscato, who retired after over 40 years with the brand, the company announced Friday.
- Ellis, who previously served as VP of real estate and development at Cracker Barrel, will lead the company’s growth plan in new and existing markets.
- Portillo’s has gained momentum in the Midwest, Florida and Arizona, with plans to open its first Texas restaurant this year.
Ellis, who has over 30 years of experience helping grow restaurant brands, comes at an ideal time for Portillo’s, which is aiming for 600 units over the next decade. When it went public last year, Portillo’s had 67 units. As of the second quarter, Portillo’s had five restaurants in the works that are expected to open by the end of the year, including its first restaurant in Dallas-Fort Worth. It opened two units during the second quarter, when it reached 71 locations, according to its earnings release.
While Ellis was at Cracker Barrel, he oversaw the company’s growth development strategy, new restaurant openings and the development of a prototype that helped improve operational efficiency, according to the press release. He also served as CDO and COO at FoodFirst Global Restaurants and as CDO of Ruby Tuesday and O’Charley’s.
Portillo’s has positioned itself for 10% unit count growth next year with a slight shift in strategy, CEO Michael Osanloo said during the company’s earnings call in August. The permitting process is taking longer, so the company has budgeted more time for this process and construction, Osanloo said. The company already has several HVAC kits set aside for openings next year as part of its plan to lessen risks associated with the development process, he said.