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Diamond Lil: A Busload of Sustainable Dining

Restaurateur Kai Schoenhals is a believer in high-concept dining and a self-professed "public transportation junkie." So when...


Restaurateur Kai Schoenhals is a believer in high-concept dining and a self-professed "public transportation junkie." So when he caught wind of a old Greyhound bus rotting in rural Utah, he naturally thought: restaurant. Inspired by such mobile operations as the Napa Wine Train, the Bay Area-based Schoenhals and chef-partner Daniel Isberg-the pair run a highly regarded local underground dining series-decided to refit the silver-sided 1957 GMC as a fully featured eatery that will travel around the region to its guests (or are they its hosts?). And unlike the train, this vehicle won't be limited by pesky tracks. "Our bus can roam," boasts its creator. A motorcycle dinghy further extends its reach.Of course, in a dining culture that's seen food miles become a major calculation, extra driving sounds alarm bells-practically by definition, it becomes tricky to call your food local if your restaurant itself is moving around. But the pair have covered their bases. The bus-nicknamed Diamond Lil, after an enterprising great-aunt of Schoenhals-has been configured to run on her own used cooking oil (extra pan drippings from the duo's colleagues will help top off the tank). This is a moveable feast that powers its own movement. Add an interior built from recycled materials, and of course the initial salvage itself (Lil was "saved from the destiny of becoming a wood storage bin," Schoenhals says), and this 53-year-old bus starts to look like a model of modern dining.

Photos by Kai Schoenhals
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