Couple turned their van into a dining room so they can still go to restaurants during the pandemic

One Illinois couple has found a creative way to safely support local eateries and still get a restaurant experience during a time when coronavirus restrictions are in place.

Back in October, when indoor dining shut down again in most of the state, Lombard, Illinois, resident Doug White told his wife, Kim, that he wished they had an RV so they could travel to restaurants and eat their takeout at the RV dining table while parked there.

Eating out is “Doug’s love language,” Kim told the Chicago Tribune, and something the couple often did pre-pandemic.

Then it dawned on Kim that she could convert her transit van into a mobile dining experience. The couple strung up lights, put down carpet, bought a small table and a red-and-white checkered table cloth, and set up some folding chairs. All of it cost under $100.

Check out their setup below in this ABC7 news clip.

Doug was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in June, so finding the joy in the middle of the stress of chemotherapy and the pandemic has been especially important to the Whites, as they noted in the video.

They dine at restaurants in Lombard and the surrounding communities frequently now thanks to their van setup. Instead of eating from takeout boxes, they bring their own real utensils and plates. Some restaurants will plate the food for the couple and serve it to them out of the back of their van.

Doug says they don’t ask for any discount, they pay for the meals, and they “over-tip,” because “it’s more important that [the restaurants] make the money than we promote this,” as he told Living Local Lombard in a longer segment.

The Whites’ unique dining idea has garnered local and national media attention along with lots of love from local restaurants. All the attention has come as a surprise to the couple, who say they simply wanted to have fun while eating at places they love to “help them stick around,” as they told Living Local Lombard.

They have a Facebook page called Van Dining, seen in the post below, and recently started an Instagram account too.

They now pick places to eat at based on others’ suggestions, the whims of their own cravings, and also whether a restaurant has a mission they support. For example, they highlighted a cupcake establishment and an Italian restaurant that both support cancer-related causes, along with a barbecue joint that helps those in uniform.

In this Facebook post, they’re dining out at local Italian place Rosemary and Jeans.

This is definitely a dining trend we like to see rolling along!