Chicago, IL

You can't pay cash in the Portillo's drive-thru starting Jan. 16th

Jennifer Geer

Portillo's is about to make a big change to drive-thru ordering.

(CHICAGO) Anyone who has waited in the drive-thru line during lunch to pick up an Italian beef sandwich, chopped salad, or Chicago dog from Portillo's knows how insanely long the lines can get.

Yet they typically run efficiently, with customers having the option to pay with either cash or credit cards.

No more cash allowed in Portillo's drive-thrus

However, the cash option in the drive-thru line will soon be coming to an end. Portillo's has announced that beginning on Monday, January 16th, the suburban Chicago-based fast food chain will no longer allow customers to pay with cash when ordering in the drive-thru.

“We are going cashless only in our drive-thru," Portillos said in a statement to WGN. "This creates a faster, smoother service for our guests and is safer for our team members. We will only accept cash inside our restaurants. We’d be happy to accept credit or debit cards outside or serve cash guests inside.”

You can still use cash to pay if you head inside the restaurant, just not in the drive-thru line.

Portillo's drive-thru is big business

Portillo's does a lot of business through its drive-thru. According to Restaurant Business Online, President and CEO Michael Osanloo reported the average Portillo drive-thru makes $3.9 million in sales. That number is three times higher than that of McDonald's.

Many businesses opt to go cashless

Fast food restaurants, in general, have been heading towards cashless systems for some time now. For example, McDonald's introduced digital kiosks in 2018, which don't accept cash, although customers still have the option to pay cash if they choose to order from an employee at the counter.

A cashless business is against the law in some areas of the country. Laws in New York City, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and San Francisco ban stores, restaurants, and retail outlets from refusing to accept cash from customers.

Are all Portillo's drive-thru locations going cashless?

Portillo's announced the cashless drive-thru policy will take effect on Monday, January 16, for every one of its 71 locations across nine states.

Inflation is affecting costs for Portillo's

According to Chicago Eater, Portillo's strategy for the future is to try to keep prices down for customers despite the rising costs of food during this time of inflation.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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