Enrique Alcoreza — junior, business analytics major and current residential assistant (RA) of Verna McLean residence hall — became mildly famous in San Antonio news outlets this summer when a certain orange-striped fast food behemoth decorated his dorm room. His dorm space looks like a miniature restaurant with its brightly colored pillows reading “Ketchup” and “No Onion,” glossy rectangular photographs of burgers and chicken sandwiches above his bed, a mouse pad that looks like a ketchup packet and a plethora of comfortable orange furniture.
“[Life] was normal as of last semester,” Alcoreza said. “As of now, I get reminded three to 10 times a day, ‘Hey, you’re the Whataburger guy,’ and ‘Hey, how’d you get that room?’ The average day so far has just been a lot of explaining about Whataburger and being labeled as the official Whataburger guy. I love it, though.”
Alcoreza’s favorite aspects of his room are the custom-made art pieces in the style of Andy Warhol, the hamburger piñata that his hall is going to name soon — “It’s going to be Patty, short for Patty Melt,” Alcoreza said.
Alcoreza’s room also dons a ketchup packet-themed dart board.
“I’ve been practicing, and I’m getting slightly… not worse,” Alcoreza said.
It all started during last year’s first-year move-in day. Every RA’s hall has its own theme for door labels, and Alcoreza decided to put up Whataburger-themed door tags. David Tuttle, dean of students, took a picture and sent it to his wife, Donna Tuttle, who works as director of brand content and communications at Whataburger. Soon, Alcoreza was pleasantly surprised by a care package from Whataburger, but the real surprise arrived a couple of months later.
“I just got an email from the marketing department of Whataburger saying, ‘Hey, we wanna deck out someone’s dorm. You’re in college, do you want that to be you?’ ” Alcoreza said.
After the story about his Whataburger room broke, Alcoreza reported a newfound popularity.
“I’ll just get random knocks throughout the day and night, and I know it’s either going to be a resident or people who want to see the dorm. During the Tiger Move-In Day this year, it was crazy because the story released the night before,” Alcoreza said. “Parents from out of state were like, ‘Hey, you’re the Whataburger guy!’ My 15 minutes of fame were very bright and very big, but I think it’s starting to die down now.”
Are all of the first-years in his hall Whatafans as well?
“I do have a couple students who are international students, so they haven’t tried Whataburger. I do have a couple people who have [allegiance] to In-And-Out,” Alcoreza said. “We’re gonna have to have some stern talks down the road.”
First-year Tristan Smith is a long-time Whataburger aficionado and lives in Alcoreza’s hall.
“Whataburger is one of the best places to get a hamburger in Texas,” Smith said. “They have quality stuff, it’s not terribly unhealthy, and I know I’ve been going there since I was a little kid, so it’s my favorite place to go eat.”
Fellow first-year Joseph Wright is ambivalent about the chain.
“[Whataburger’s] alright. It’s kind of overrated,” Wright said.
Whatahall first-year Matthew Barton shared his love for Whataburger, as well as his favorite menu staple.
“I’m from Texas, so I love the honey barbecue chicken strip sandwich. That’s the only thing I’ve ever ordered there, it’s amazing. Sometimes I’ll get a shake,” Barton said.
Alcoreza’s own favorite item is a bit more obscure, but packed with local flavor.
“I’m from El Paso, Texas, and we have a burger called the Green Chile Double, which is only served regionally because we use New Mexico hot chiles, so it’s really, really good. Every time I come here, I ask for it and they’re just very confused,” Alcoreza said.
Alcoreza says that the situation has taught him a valuable lesson: “All roads go through Tuttle.”
| Class of 2021 | Majors: English and Anthropology |