Babalu Tapas and Tacos is a southern-influenced restaurant that sits on East Boulevard in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ever since its recent opening on July 25, the eatery has served hundreds of people, including Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly.

My family and I decided to try the new restaurant before I departed for my sophomore year at the University of Richmond. There was a 45-minute wait, but we decided to stick it out. While waiting for a table, my sister shoved me, saying, “Luke Kuechly, Luke Kuechly, Luke Kuechly!”

If you live in Charlotte, North Carolina, you’re a Panthers fan. If you live anywhere near North Carolina, you’re a Panthers fan. Therefore, any fan would consider coming face-to-face with Luke Kuechly a dream come true.

Being the fan of Luke that I am, my sister’s alert caused my vision to blur and my breath to shorten. My eyes finally focused on Luke himself, walking right in front of me. As he exited Babalu, I grabbed my brother and sister and chased Luke outside. I called his name until he finally turned around and I nervously asked, “Would it be alright to take a quick picture? I know this is super annoying so I’ll make it quick.” Although he is constantly bombarded with fans asking for autographs or getting a photo taken, Luke graciously accepted my request. After posing for a picture, he darted off towards his car in hopes that no one else would delay his departure.

Meeting Luke Kuechly made my bucket list and the 45-minute wait for dinner shorter.