Dine Out Vancouver has transformed the dining landscape in the city. And this month marks 15 years since the first Dine Out took flight.
Those of us who’ve been around for a while can recall how it was before Dine Out. If you were down in the ranks of the restaurant business, chances were, come the new year you’d be laid off.
Dine Out—now Dine Out Vancouver Festival—has changed all that, turning those January February blues into a robust romp through special menus—plus a wealth of cool events.
Over the last few years the festival (now Canada’s biggest of its kind) has taken on a life of its own. Not only are there myriad dining deals to be had. There’s a ton of interesting and taste-worthy events to capture the imagination of even the most tentative foodie.
Every year since its inception Tourism Vancouver (the agency behind Dine Out) stages a ‘dine around’ evening for the media. It’s an epic undertaking that involves masterful planning. Plus, it attracts a huge number of media. Someone told me last night the number of no shows is always zero.
That’s unheard of in this most fickle of RSVP challenged towns. This year it started and finished at Cibo / Uva, which is undergoing a transformation thanks to the arrival of a new team led by Mark Taylor (ex Siena).
How Dine Out has Grown
In the beginning it was a dinner only scenario, with $10, $20 and $30 menus. Restaurants were busy but margins were wafer thin and, despite the program’s outward success, Dine Out wasn’t embraced by everyone.
Today the menu options have been upped to $20, $30 and $40. There are still plenty of great deals but there also ‘add-ons’ to cover more costly ingredients. Several places offer Dine Out lunch menus. 100,000 locals and visitors will ‘Dine Out’ over the 17 day event.
Dine Out has also become an excellent vehicle for BC wines, with most restaurants offering optional BC VQA wine pairings. Result: More consumers are discovering BC wines; and, yes, a higher average tab at the end of the night.
More than menus …
While the foundation of the festival remains the prix fixe menu (this year sees 284 participating restaurants), the mix now includes special hotel room rates, culinary packages and more: the Vancouver World Chef Exchange brings in talent from overseas but also helps raise our own profile. That added travel component has also seen Aeroplan jump on board as the premier partner.
You can experience tastes of Granville Island with Vancouver Foodie Tours; take in the Grape Debate; check out the Ocean Wise pop up at Vancouver Aquarium; celebrate the Year of the Rooster at Heritage Asian Eatery; take a cocktail master class with the awesome maestro of mixology Lauren Mote; jump aboard a coffee and beer tour … and more.
A New Social Contract
This year marks sees a new partnership with United Way of the Lower mainland. The charity’s Stop the Growl initiative will receive all donations received through the Chef’s Soup Experiment. That’s the official opening event where participating chefs each add an ingredient to a stock prepared by students at PICA (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts). Served at noon, January 20th, on Granville Island Suggested donation: $5.
See you at Dine out!
For full event info, menus, reservations and more, click here