Meet Pete Robinson: The Man Who Has Eaten at Every Portillo’s

Pete Robinson is a Portillo's super fan. Since first eating at founder Dick Portillo's original "Dog House" in 1964 – just a year after it first opened – Pete has gone on to eat at every Portillo's restaurant at least once.

"Pete may be the biggest Portillo's fan in the world," said Dick Portillo. "We see him at every new store opening. Our store openings wouldn't be the same without him."

On numerous occasions, Pete has been the first in line when a new Portillo's opened. We caught up with Pete to ask about his experiences with Portillo's over the past 50 years and to ask about his favorite memory of the original Dog House.

Q: Tell us about your history with Portillo's. When did you first start going to Portillo's?
I have been going to Portillo's since 1964. My best friend took me there when I was in high school. As soon as I received my driver's license, my parents let me have the family Buick and I took three of my friends from LaGrange to The Dog House, which was the original Portillo's. 

When I went there in high school one day, Mr. Portillo was working the counter. I ordered 2 hot dogs, a tamale, and a Coke. It was $1.02. I put a one dollar bill on the counter and Mr. Portillo said, "that's good, I'll pay the tax." I have been eating at his restaurants ever since. That is the customer service he has built the business on for over 50 years.

I have been to every Portillo's restaurant. A few years back, I decided to make it my personal quest to visit every Portillo's. My wife has not been to them all, but we are working on it. 

My favorite store is in Sycamore, IL because I go there at least three times a week. I am also very fond of the Scottsdale, AZ store. My wife, Char, and I have eaten there three times so far this year.

Q: What are your favorite menu items at Portillo's?
I like everything on the menu. The food is really wonderful. I have had almost everything on the menu at one time or another. During lent my wife & I go to Portillo's on Fridays so she can have a pepper and egg sandwich. What a treat. 
When I order for the first time at a grand opening, I order a hot dog, no peppers, no relish, a tamale and a large diet coke. That is what we would order at the original Dog House.

I have a crew that goes with me to the Sycamore Portillo's every Sunday night for dinner. Everyone has something they like and we can easily have a table for up to 15 of us. I'm there so often the managers all know us and say hello. I know all of them personally and it makes us feel at home.

Q: Tell us about being first in line at new Portillo's restaurants.
I have been first at every one since the Sycamore, IL store opened in 2005. I flew to California to be first at both of those openings (Moreno Valley and Buena Park). I was not first in Scottsdale, AZ, as two women slept in their car all night to be first. As they were waiting in line, they left to go to a gas station to use a restroom. That's when we got in line, so they weren't there. But they came back and told me the story, so I let them go first as they were there all night. But I was next in line.

Q: Will we see you at our Rockford opening next week?
Yes, I will be at Rockford. I have already driven past the location to look at it and am looking forward to opening day.

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The Rockford Portillo's opens on June 9th, 2015. We look forward to welcoming Pete to our 39th restaurant.

Do you know a Portillo's super fan like Pete? We love to tell the stories of our biggest fans. Nominate a fan (or yourself!) and we will consider interviewing you for our website and social media channels.

Portillo's fans can register now to receive a free piece of chocolate cake on their birthday from any Portillo's restaurant. Head to portillos.com/freecake to sign up.

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