The pay wasn’t great but looking back now, says busboy/bartender-turned-Orlando software company president Kirk Stephens, “I probably would have paid Chances R for the fun I had working there and all the great people I met.”
“Something was always happening at Chances R any night of the week,” says the 1972 finance grad. “But the weekends were stellar, starting on Friday afternoons with nickel hot dogs served in the small room right up until the 2 a.m. closing time where the night was just beginning for the staff.
“Anyone working on Fridays or Saturdays would not expect to be back to their dorms, Greek houses or campus housing before 8 in the morning. It was a wild time and place to go to school, live and work in Urbana-Champaign. Like (fellow UI-at-150 storyteller) Paula Holderman points out, it’s sometimes hard to believe we actually graduated and made it out to our successful careers.
“Of the many countless stories that were made during the Chances R heady days for students at Illinois, I’ll just recite one of them I remember like yesterday.
“One night, a very famous national band in the early ’70s — Three Dog Night — was featured as the name act. They sang and played a terrific set or two at the R. I was working the main bar at the stage level so even though it was packed and we staff had no time to look up or watch, we could hear them well with the stage speakers aimed directly in our ears so I know they were a really good live band.
“The next morning, late in the day as usual, I came home to my campus house shared with several other students. There in my bed was one of the Three Dog Night band members, sound asleep. He had been invited over by one of the Chances R cocktail waitresses who was sharing the house.
“I slept on the couch and the next morning, he came out, thanked me for the use of the bed and then in passing said that the bed was the hardest he’d ever slept in. I thanked him for the good performance the prior night.
“After he left, I walked in and noticed that someone else had taken the mattress off overnight so he had been sleeping on the box springs covered in a blanket. I guess he wasn’t used to the ever-changing student living conditions with which we were all well-accustomed to.”