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Twin City Hot Dog Places Thrive Despite Portillo's Competition

The entry of Portillo's restaurant into Bloomington-Normal appears to have had an unexpected effect on the marketplace.

Places such as Windy City Wieners were worried about lost sales, much as Walmart has often cannibalized sales of mom-and-pop stores throughout America.

Larry Carius, who writes about the restaurant scene on Facebook, said Windy City Wieners found the reverse happened.

"Their business has increased. They had the largest August since they opened. They think September will be the largest September since they opened," said Carius.

Carius said sales at the two Windy City Wieners outlets in Bloomington and Normal are up 10 percent since Portillo's opened.

"They went from concerned to surprised, to very, very pleased," said Carius.

He said there is only speculation about why, but it might be that people are thinking about hot dogs because of the publicity about Portillo's and they are choosing other places to avoid the crowds at Portillo's.

In other developments, Carius said Core-Life Eatery will be in half of the former Wildberries location in the Shoppes at College Hills, offering organic food.

A number of downtown Bloomington establishments are celebrating longevity with significant anniversaries: The Bistro at 24 years, Fat Jacks at 20 years, and Maguire's also 20 years.

Carius also said the old Ming's Buffet Restaurant on Hershey has been Chinese and then Indian. Now it will be Mexican. The name is Hacienda Leon.

Carius runs the popular Bloomington Normal Restaurant Scene page on Facebook. He has more than 17,500 followers.

Larry Carius's full interview with Charlie Schlenker including changes at the Lucca Grill, and an update on the Parkview Inn.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.