Winter weather has made outdoor dining more difficult, but one couple in Illinois have come up with a creative way to keep visiting their favorite restaurants while staying warm.
Doug and Kim White converted a transit van into a private dining room, purchasing a table and setting up folding chairs to eat at and stringing up some lights. They stop at local favorites and neighborhood staples, sharing their experiences on social media.
Indoor dining has been restricted in Illinois since early November, and the region's harsh winters have made outdoor dining nearly impossible.
"Having been in the industry, I know how hard it is for a restaurant to stay in business even without a pandemic threat," wrote Doug White in a Facebook post on Oct. 23. "We turned the Mikey Mobile into a portable dining room. We'll do what we can to support our eateries."
The couple posts reviews of their meals online, sometimes sharing stories about the establishments that they are dining at. In each post, they include details about options other diners have for carryout or delivery dining from the location so that more people can order from their favorite spots.
While the van might make dining more accessible than it might otherwise be during the pandemic, the couple has admitted on social media that it's still not as fun as eating indoors: In a review for a beloved pizzeria, Doug White said that the ambience just wasn't the same.
"We both agreed not being able to sit at the bar and enjoy an ice-cold Old Style made the experience not quite as good, but in this Covid world, we'll take what we can get!" he wrote.
The idea quickly went viral: The couple said on social media that they had been interviewed by multiple local media organizations, and several friends and family members have commented on their posts saying that they would love to do something similar.
Kim and Doug White aren't the only ones getting creative while trying to support their local restaurants. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a huge impact on the industry, restaurants are taking steps to protect their guests who are eating indoors, and are trying to come up with ways to keep outdoor diners warm. Meanwhile, some guests have proved that they'll brave blizzards to visit their favorite establishments.