Chicago couple converts van to dining room to enjoy restaurants despite COVID restrictions

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Chicago couple Kim and Doug White have converted their van into a mobile dining room in an effort to enjoy the outdoor dining experience despite COVID-19 restrictions.

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The idea came to the Whites in October after they were lamenting the city's latest mandate while driving around town.

"When the shutdowns in Illinois occurred, we were sad because we wouldn’t be able to do something we enjoyed, but we are also very concerned for those that work in that industry," Kim White told FOX Business.

In addition, her husband Doug received news in June that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The diagnosis began to have an impact on the meals the couple would be able to enjoy together when Doug found out he would have to go through chemotherapy.

"Doug said, ‘I wish we had an RV with a dining room and we could just drive to restaurants and eat there. I thought about it and said, ‘I can do that with my Ford Transit!’," White added. "The next day I put a carpet, lights, table and chairs in it. The day of the mandate, we took it out on its’ first adventure."

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After investing just under $100 to convert the van, the couple is now able to enjoy date nights again, eating takeout meals in the parking lots of their favorite restaurants from the comfort of a table covered by a red-and-white checkered table cloth.

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Photo courtesy of Doug White Photography

The Whites have been documenting their 'Van Dining' experiences on social media, which Kim hopes will encourage others to go out and support local restaurants and bars struggling due to the restrictions.

"If we don’t do what we can to keep restaurants afloat during this time, they won’t be there to hire back everyone when this is over," White said. "Restaurants are excited when they see us coming."

On Wednesday, the couple visited Gatto's restaurant in Downers Grove, which was chosen for its support of the Ride Janie Ride Foundation, an organization that helped the Whites when Doug received his diagnosis.

"Tonight Kim got the Carbonera with fresh peas, very good and being in a seafood mood I got the grilled squid and Whitefish Lemone, sauteed whitefish in a lemon butter and wine sauce, over angel hair," Doug wrote. "I would get that again in a heartbeat!"

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You can follow their dining adventures on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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