Correcting the Portillos myth ONE LAST TIME

By: Diane Benjamin

Portillos didn’t get a dime of taxpayer money. Koos’s buddy did!

Chris Koos wanted Portillos in Normal. I don’t know if he really believed it would be a destination as he claimed, but obviously it isn’t since other nearby cities also got a Portillos.

Koos wanted the hotel where the restaurant is now gone. He wanted Portillos in Normal before they found a location in Bloomington. Hence, he gave his buddy your money to tear the hotel down so Portillos could build there.


The $1,825,000 plus 8% interest was supposed to be paid back with all the big bucks Normal would haul in the from food and beverage taxes.

This same developer owns 1 Uptown Circle where the Town of Normal agreed to rent an entire floor for close to $36,000 a month – or the building wouldn’t get build. This is the same building where luxury apartments are subsidizes by you. This is the same building with a still empty first floor because Koos gets to decide who the “right fit” is.

In a display of utter brilliance, Normal thought people would flock to an exclusive restaurant with no close parking. Koos also thought government would create prosperity, add this to his long FAIL list.

There are lots of reason to dislike what Normal does, giving money to Portilllos isn’t one of them. The Town did you use your tax money to pay off the loan early. I will never believe it was to save 8% interest, I believe the developer of 1 Uptown Circle was in serious trouble with an empty first floor and apartments that took a long time to rent.

The reason for this story is because I heard the Portillos myth repeated again this morning on the radio. Citizens need accurate information, Portillos is the biggest misinformation out there.

From the Secretary of State’s corporation search:

The entity that did the Portillos deal:

Now look up Tartan Reality Group – the guys who did 1 Uptown Circle.

Same guy is President. Tartan is in good standing.

The company contracted with for the Trail East building is Bush Development LLC:

Maybe they are incorporated in another state.







9 thoughts on “Correcting the Portillos myth ONE LAST TIME

  1. One reason we are told why no restaurant has rented the 1st floor of 1 Uptown is because of a lack of ground level parking. We are not Chicago. B/N loves to drive instead of using the bus or cabs and we don’t want to waste time and money with a parking garage. To address this reality, Koos and Co are negotiating to sell the parking lot behind The Garlic Press to the 1 Uptown developer so they can have ground level parking. (More than likely for $1.00 since that has been the town’s going rate for other property they have sold in Uptown.)

    Koos and Co have not learned that gifting incentives to open more restaurants, bars, or taxpayer subsidized $4k/mo luxury apartments results in taking customers from existing businesses and forcing them to subsidize their competition. Their is no net gain. Koos’ strategy is not economic growth. It is economic dilution.

    Watch for a ramped increase in taxpayer giveaways and other fiscally irresponsible deals to be approved while Koos still has majority control on the council. There a lot of wants that are still on his punch list.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Communist Chinese Virus lock-down has accelerated the trends and disruptions that were already quickly changing our world.

      What we have with Koos and Renner are individuals who have little or no grasp on how and how fast technological change is transforming our world.

      Not that long ago when Macy’s closed, a Bloomington city official proclaimed that, “There are Tier 1 retailers ready to take advantage of that space” A few weeks ago Eastland Mall filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

      Mayor Koos told us his Hot Dog Stand would be a destination for people living in surrounding towns. We all know how that worked out.

      So when it comes to having an even rudimentary grasp of what the Age of Technological change has the potential to do to Bloomington-Normal, we have 20th Century Socialist Elites who employ cronyism and deceit with economic stimulus ideas from the 1980’s.

      Our current leadership in both towns does not have what it takes to:

      1. Prepare the area for a “soft landing” as our main economic drivers move into the backside of their life-cycle bell curves
      2. Create a business environment that can attract businesses “right now”
      3. Create an environment that attracts and retains the intellectual talent necessary to create 21st Century businesses

      Throughout history, leaders have arisen to deal with the challenges of the day.

      Lincoln – the Civil War
      FDR – World War 2
      Trump – Globalism

      We need leaders to arise to meet the coming economic challenges or this will be the end of Bloomington-Normal as we have known it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems these politico “Smartie smarts” would be MUCH better off picking WINNERS then WAITING for the right fit!
    So far they have YET to pick a winner! Can’t stay at the business table without a win ONCE in a while!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it again… The Portillo’s developer in Champaign didn’t get a single dime or tax break. And guess what? They managed to build it, open it, and make a ton of money off it. End the corporate wlefare.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Who has $1.8 million dollars sitting around ready to cut a check to someone? The Town of Normal that’s who. Now, here we are in tough economic times starring at a tax increase right around the corner that will get blamed on COVID 19 when the Town of Normal flushed their rainy day account to Bloomington Landmark Development. Normal does not have a revenue problem they have a spending problem.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Uptown dreams is exactly right. Normal has a spending problem.

    Normal needs to stop buying the best money can buy, and only buy the best we can afford.

    Normal should prioritize spending based on needs instead of spending based on the wants of a few individuals.

    Normal needs council members who will say no to pet projects and irresponsible spending.

    Normal needs a council and mayor who will actually represent the citizens and put the taxpayers first.

    Normal needs a council who will put our children’s financial future ahead of their desire to accumulate debt for what our generation cannot afford.

    Normal needs to elect people who are not rubber stampers.

    The citizens of Normal need their voice returned to town hall.

    Your vote matters or we will have 4 more years of growing debt and citizen suppression under Koos and whomever he runs for council.

    Donate to Diane. The Lord knows WGLT will never put this information out there.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Portillo’s is not to blame, we agree on that Diane. This is about Koos dealmaking with developers to provide work for his union pals. I don’t blame Portillos, the laborers, or even the unions for taking advantage of the situation on the playing field. I blame Koos and his developer pals for rigging the game. I wonder how much of the Portillo’s revenue remains in Normal. It doesn’t franchise, ownership and management are based in Oak Brook, and I highly doubt there are any shareholders in the Twin Cities. That means that the taxpayers of Normal paid money to effectively take revenue away from restaurants that are owned, operated, and invested in by locals. Also, disposal income is a finite amount and does not increase or decrease when a new restaurant is opened. Rather, a new restaurant takes a share or portion of existing disposal income that would otherwise be spent at other restaurants.

    Liked by 2 people

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