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Dinner Is Served! Pop-up dining room brings quirky quality to quarantine dining

For the van der Wals of Newport, Rhode Island, thinking “inside the box” led to a creative and nifty way to not only quash quarantine boredom, but also support local restaurants in the process. What began as a simple idea to beat the doldrums of lockdown grew into a great bonding experience for the foodie family: Onne and Tenley, and their two children, Read and Adrian. Quarantining at home with the whole fam got to be monotonous, especially with cooking full meals and cleaning dishes every night (ugh!), and with the family planning to sell Onne’s photography trailer, it seemed to be the perfect time for the van der Wals to do something innovative.

“We own a trailer that is used to haul large prints and a trade show booth setup, but it was sitting there with no purpose during the COVID lockdown. We decided to take everything out and build out this pop-up dining room concept,” says Read. 

While the Pop-Up Dining Room looks like it was handcrafted by professional artisans, it was actually a totally DIY family project! “First step was to cut a carpet (with scissors) to fit the bottom, then set a table with five places. We strung up some lights, installed a speaker, and the vibes felt good. Final step, of course, was to cover every square inch of the interior walls with Onne van der Wal photography. Voila! Five star dining on wheels.” 

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Since taking the Pop-Up Dining Room out for a spin, the community response has been great. Read adds, “We pulled up on Bannisters’ Wharf and ordered take out from Clarke Cooke House, and the reaction was incredible so we decided to keep it going. We also parked alongside Washington Square and ordered Bar ‘Cino and Stoneacre Brasserie, another huge success!” The Pop-Up Dining Room has also been spotted at Pasta Beach and Thames Street Kitchen, two other awesome local restaurants that have been rocking the takeout game in these past few months. Even though the Pop-Up Dining Room is currently wheeling around in town solely in Newport, the van der Wals have big plans for the future — maybe even hauling it over the bridges to PVD! Who knows, you might just see this resplendent rig rolling up to a restaurant near you soon!

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