Portillo’s has been open in Champaign since May, but the business still hasn’t lost its luster. Napervillian students are driving and Ubering to get a ketchup-only hot dog with a poppy seed bun and an order of cheese fries. However, there’s one student who often takes a bus to Portillo’s and is convinced that it’s still worth it.
Chase Kerr, a freshman in mechanical engineering, took the CUMTD bus to Portillo’s for the first time last month and knew that it was a trip worthwhile after he heard the words “order 29, you’re ready to dine” as a 39-year-old woman in a paperboy hat from The Great Depression handed him his food.
“I can’t even explain to you the number of times I thought about going home over the weekend just to get a hot diggity dog just saturated– completely dripping– in ketchup,” said Kerr. ‘Then my RA told me that Portillo’s had opened recently and I weighed out all my options. If I took the bus I could afford to go, like, twice a month.”
Kerr’s RA, Simon Stein couldn’t believe his resident actually took a bus that wasn’t the 22 and went off campus all for overpriced fast food. Stein had offered to drive Kerr to Portillo’s, but Kerr refuses to take the ride.
“My RA is honestly weird, he’s from Buffalo Grove and I’m sick of hearing about how amazing high school was,” said Kerr. “The 45-minute bus ride gives me a lot of time to reflect on my life and build up an appetite.”
One day Kerr will realize that his claim to fame of riding the bus to Portillo’s will not be something he has to own proudly, but until then, Illini can keep Ubering and driving for a rhyme and meats.