Good morning, troops. It's Tuesday, April 3.
Nick in the Morning returns after more than a week's vacation spent outside the Peoria area. Judging from the snow and ice storms that hit town during our absence, it looks like our timing was perfect, for a change.
Speaking of change, that's all you're going to need Wednesday if you want a slice of a staple of the Portillo's menu. Although that's slightly too early to be offered at the under-construction Peoria site of the Chicago-style fast-food behemoth.
In celebration of its 55th anniversary, Portillo's is offering 55-cent slices of its signature chocolate cake tomorrow, while supplies last.
Strings are attached. An entree also must be purchased, and the offer is available only to dine-in or drive-thru customers (no online pr delivery orders).
The longest string for Peorians might extend 40 or so miles to Normal, which is the closest Portillo's location. That is expected to change late this month, when the Peoria Portillo's is scheduled to open at 4412 N. Rockwood Drive.
Unlike most other locations in the Portillo's chain, the Peoria outlet is to include a beer garden.
The patio seating, where suds are to be allowed, is to be located in front of the building, according to Sarah Mancilla, the local Portillo's general manager.
"That's something they've been doing with the last couple of them," Mancilla said last month after she appeared in front of the city Liquor Commission.
"It depends on the location, how high traffic is, do we think it's going to be something viable or would that square footage be more viable inside, where we can use it all year round."
Mancilla has been in Peoria a little more than a month. Previously, she worked at the Portillo's in Harwood Heights, a Chicago suburb.
As of last month, about half the 200 or so Peoria Portillo's full- and part-time positions had been filled, according to Mancilla. She said her five assistants are Peoria-area residents who have worked at local businesses.
"Right now, I'm steering the ship, basically showing them how to do things," Mancilla said. "My goal is to promote the guy under me, so he can promote the guy under him."
The official Portillo's opening has been scheduled for April 30, although a sneak preview has been planned. By then, perhaps, the weather will be nice enough for an Italian-sausage sandwich and a pint on the patio.
The weather most definitely was better in Miami, where we spent part of our holiday. We didn't hear this song on the way to work, but we did hear it and its stylistic siblings ad nauseam over 45 innings of big-league baseball this past week at Marlins Park, which apparently doubles as a mostly empty nightclub.
You can put up with it for a few minutes, if you so click. (If Nick in the Morning has to suffer, so does everybody else.)