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Monday, September 25, 2023

The thick smell of active grease traps wafts in the air as some blood-shot college students dine on fried chicken, burgers and fries.

It's hard to hear friends as greetings are shouted and slurred to arriving guests.

Whataburger's capacity is 94 people. But early Sunday morning, UF economics junior Bob O'Linn was trying to push the capacity limit.

His Whataburger social, located on West University Avenue, had about 100 people during the first hour of the event.

"I wanted to see how many people we can cram into the building before they freak out," O'Linn said.

UF freshman Kim Augenstein said she came for the food.

"We wanted to ambush Whataburger Kamikaze-style," she said.

Since the start of the party at 2:30 a.m., a long line dominated the register.

"I don't even see back into the kitchen, but I feel bad. I really do," O'Linn said. "The lady at the register, she's a saint."

While many crowded around the counter, a Gainesville police officer stood casually in the corner and kept watch.

Lt. Will Halzosa said the best part about supervising events like the social is the pay involved.

Halzosa also won the costume contest dressed in his police uniform.

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The reward was a triple-meat, triple-cheese burger. A round of applause erupted as O'Linn handed Halzosa the massive burger.

"I'm touched," Halzosa said. "I'm speechless."

Third place was a costume in the shape of a green tetris piece. Second place was orange and blue tie-dyed long underwear.

"It's an excuse to see people dress up like jackasses," O'Linn said.

Whataburger marks the beginning of these social events.

"We're looking to expand to other restaurant brands," O'Linn said.

Checkers and Steak n Shake may be next, he said.

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