Dine Out Vancouver – the food and beverage festival that offers set menus at fixed prices to get customers to restaurants during the slow winter months – is back for its 20th year.
Within the list of hundreds of participating restaurants, there are a few that have been a part of the festival every year since it started back in 2003, including Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver and The Hart House in Burnaby.
But the restaurants say it has been challenging to operate in the midst of a pandemic in the last two years.
The latest set of restrictions by the BC government, which is set to expire on January 18, limits the maximum number of people per year. table for six with physical distance or barriers between the tables. Customers must also present proof of full vaccination along with photo ID
Likewise, supply chain problems and staff shortages have added other obstacles.
Hart House sales manager Sonja Muller said the restaurant had to change its Dine Out menu four times before the festival started on January 14, due to supply chain problems associated with extreme floods that hit BC in mid-November.
It is not only the availability of the products, Muller said, lack of supplier staff means that deliveries do not always happen.
“We often find that we actually go out and pick things up because deliveries are sometimes hard to come by, especially for the smaller vendors,” she said.
Co-owner and CEO of Wedgewood Hotel & Spa Elpie Marinakis said they have also had to be creative with their offerings. She said one of the features of Dine Out is a reduced menu, which means the amount of certain ingredients is higher than normal.
“We have had to be extremely innovative in finding ingredients and definitely using more local ingredients and using more local producers to support our local suppliers,” she said.
In the spirit of supporting locals, Marinakis said they have paired BC wines with items on their dinner menu.
“I think if anything, it has brought, you know, BC and Vancouver closer together, the culinary community much tighter. We are all willing to help each other.”
Although Dine Out reservations have not been as high as pre-pandemic years, Muller said The Hart House is grateful to be open and celebrate 20 years as a festival goer.
“Things look brighter.”
Your Out Vancouver runs until January 31, 2022.