Campustown hasn't smelled the same since Ben Bain's favorite eatery closed.
Just as one whiff of South Farms could make anyone within sniffing distance feel sick to their stomach, the odor eminating from the late, great Bonnie Jean's made Bain crave pizza.
“I could always smell it from the street, just wafting," says Bain ('02), a former CNN contributor whose bylines have been appearing on Bloomberg stories since 2010.
“It was there at 2 a.m. on a bitter-cold Friday night, calling celebrating students up that creaky, grey-carpeted staircase, past the graffiti-clad walls to the big, warm oven. That same sweet funk beckoned to me on sticky, late-summer afternoons, when most of Campustown was long closed for the season.
“Over my four years at the U of I, countless nights of mine ended up at the late, great Bonnie Jean’s pizza on Fourth and Daniel. Whether I was cramming, working or out at a bar or party, somehow, I often ended the night waiting in that cue.
"A decade-and-a-half later, it’s hard to know if the pie was as tasty as I remember, or if I just associate it with good times. Regardless, I recall that smell like it was yesterday, and I still can’t say that I’ve had a better slice.”