Yet, he adds, “We are very lucky here in Vancouver because in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, the restaurants are shut. Europe, too.”
Downtown businesses have been especially hard hit — the pandemic has kept tourists, business travellers and office workers alike at home — forcing restaurants like Café Medina to pivot again and again. “We’ve been a grocery store, we’ve done delivery, we do meal kits. We’re doing what we can,” Kane says.
Now, in addition to serving brunch, Medina is open three nights a week as a Mediterranean wine bar, which Kane is promoting with a $34 Dine Out menu featuring popular dishes like sweetly spiced roasted carrots with labneh.
“It is a wonderful feeling, especially for the people who haven’t been going out, to be going out in a safe environment,” Kane says. “It’s a good reason for restaurants to make sure their A game is on. It’s a great opportunity on both sides.”
Many longtime participants will also be back, including Bacchus Restaurant in the Wedgwood Hotel, where chef Montgomery Lau has created a $49 dinner menu featuring his famously decadent sticky toffee pudding.
“It’s such an amazing festival. It really brings people out in the community to try restaurants they might not otherwise, especially this year,” says Elpie Marinakis, the Wedgewood’s co-owner and managing director.
Besides, she says, “People really need to be pampered right now. I think people need the break.”
“It’s a chance to feel normal. It’s very civilized,” adds the hotel’s general manager Glenn Eleiter. “And you’re supporting the whole food chain. You’re supporting the purveyors, the farmers in the Fraser Valley, even the drivers who deliver the food.”