As great as the grub was, Nikitta Foston’s two favorite C-U stops offered plenty of other goodies that didn't appear on the menu.
The Orange, on First and Armory, and Down Under, located on the lower level of the Illini Union, “were critical survival tools in the midst of long days, longer evenings and the all-too-frequent all-nighter,” says Foston, a multimedia storyteller whose work has been published or broadcast by ESPN, Reuters, People, Essence and Ebony, among other household name media brands.
“Still, no matter how good the menu, the food was second to the social scene, the camaraderie, the shared mission, and sometimes, the shared pain.
“You see, long before Starbucks and coffee shops on every corner, these meet-up spots were all the rage,” says the Pivotal Moment podcast host. “If you were looking for a social oasis, you had to look no further.
“I laughed, talked, learned, listened, studied, grew and, in many ways, practiced what would later become my journalism skills of interviewing, reporting and now — hosting.
“These venues are where I learned to identify a good story, develop great sources and even enjoy a fantastic meal or two. It’s where I met up with old friends and made new ones that I am still blessed to call friends today.”