Twenty years ago, a group of Vancouver foodies and wine lovers got together with Destination Vancouver and had an idea to warm up a relatively cool period, just after the winter holidays, in the city’s restaurant scene. They pitched their idea of a fixed-price menu deal to run for a couple of weeks, in which restaurants could not only get bums in seats, but also feature their own take on West Coast cuisine to a whole new audience. Fifty-seven restaurants jumped at the chance that year and Dine Out Vancouver Festival was born.
January not only warmed up, it caught fire.
Four of those first restaurants have participated every year since, and as we celebrate 20 stellar years of what’s become a truly world-class culinary scene in Vancouver, we spoke with them about their memories and why they keep returning to participate year after year.
Wayne Sych, Director of Culinary at Joe Fortes loves the “energy and buzz” that Dine Out brings through the doors of their Thurlow Street institution. That rush is felt all the way to the kitchen where new dishes are inspired. “Dine Out gives chefs an opportunity to be creative with our feature menus,” Sych says. “It’s a great way to highlight our restaurant to those who haven’t tried it yet.”
Nicolle Vaupotic, Director of Food and Beverage at Granville Island’s Dockside agrees that Dine Out couldn’t come at a better time of year. “After the glow of the holidays has passed, Dine Out is a reason to celebrate in what can be a dull time of the year,” she says. “There’s no better way to avoid the midwinter blues than exploring Vancouver’s incredible food scene while trying new cuisines and restaurants.”< It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has been hit hard in the last couple of years, and Dine Out is a great way to support our culinary scene in an accessible way for most. Bacchus’ Managing Director Elpie Marinakis credits the festival’s fixed-price menus for allowing customers to find new favourites. “The culinary scene in Vancouver has grown so much over the 20 years but the meaning behind Dine Out and bringing the foodie community together has always stayed the same,” she says. “My fondest memories over the years are seeing guests who first discovered our restaurant during Dine Out and now they are regular faces in Bacchus.”
Some memories from the last 20 years have come with great stories that speak to just how much the city has embraced this much-loved festival.
“When Dine Out was first introduced in Vancouver, we didn’t realize just how popular it was going to be,” Sych recalls. “Not realizing this, we put a menu together that included a “bake-to-order” Chocolate Lava Cake. We learned from that experience and never made the same mistake again!”
Discover all the surprises that Vancouver restaurants have in store for you and support your local restaurants when Dine Out Vancouver Festival returns January 14 – 31, 2022. Find restaurants, menus, events, and reservation info at dineoutvancouver.com.