Portillo's sells 150,000 slices of birthday cake

  • Oak Brook-based Portillo's said its birthday bash featuring a slice of its chocolate cake for 54 cents broke records on Thursday.

    Oak Brook-based Portillo's said its birthday bash featuring a slice of its chocolate cake for 54 cents broke records on Thursday. COURTESY OF PORTILLO'S

 
 
Updated 4/7/2017 2:22 PM

Oak Brook-based Portillo's 54th birthday bash, featuring a slice of chocolate cake for 54 cents, broke all records for the growing chain and broke a few hearts when some customers left cake-less, the company said Friday.

About 150,000 slices of chocolate cake were sold at its 47 restaurants in six states Thursday -- about three times more than usual -- as lines of customers snaked out the door of many restaurants until closing. A typical Saturday would see about 50,000 slices sold. But some restaurants, such as in Vernon Hills and Oswego, left some customers without cake.

 

"Some of our restaurants experienced times in which demand outpaced our supply," said Portillo's spokesman Nick Scarpino. "At those restaurants, we had to tell customers that they would need to wait, in limited cases up to an hour, for our next batch of cakes to be ready,"

Scarpino said all the restaurants served cake until closing. He apologized to customers who had long wait times. "Concerned guests are invited to contact us at portillos.com and we will do our best to make things right. We promoted this offer as 'while supplies last' but we understand that some of our guests were disappointed we couldn't provide them with our delicious chocolate cake immediately," he said.

Originally founded in Villa Park in 1963, Portillo's has since expanded to 47 restaurants and more are being planned. The chain announced its birthday special last week and then sent out email reminders to customers. Restaurant bakers began work early Thursday and didn't quit until closing, Scarpino said.

The company also saw a 70 percent spike in foot traffic. So customers who came for the cake also left with some type of meal order.

"We expected to sell perhaps 100,000 slices, so this really exceeded our expectations," Scarpino said.

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