Festival of food: Dine the Couve returns in October


Restaurants to provide three-course meals for $25 throughout the month of October

VANCOUVER — A few years ago, Little Italy’s Trattoria decided to take part in Dine the Couve, the month-long celebration of restaurants and food presented by Visit Vancouver USA.

The event itself might have only lasted a month, but the boost to the business just kept going on and on and on, according to owner Jeff Boyer.

Jeff and Teresa Boyer stand outside Little Italy’s Trattoria, one of 34 restaurants that will participate in Dine the Couve, a month-long celebration of restaurants in October. Photo by Paul Valencia
Jeff and Teresa Boyer stand outside Little Italy’s Trattoria, one of 34 restaurants that will participate in Dine the Couve, a month-long celebration of restaurants in October. Photo by Paul Valencia

“Not only did we have business during it … but what we did notice is, after it was over, for months people would come in and say, ‘We wanted to get here during Dine the Couve. You’re still on our list. So here we are,’” Boyer said. “We had people following Dine the Couve for months. That kind of made it fun.”

Naturally, Little Italy’s returned to Dine the Couve last year. 

“Same results, except we had more during Dine the Couve,” Boyer said. “People started catching on that Little Italy’s is part of this now.”

Going into its third year with the event, there are some unknowns now. Little Italy’s, located at 901 Washington Street in Vancouver, is carry-out and delivery only now, the consequences from the pandemic.

“Not sure what to expect this year, but we wanted to be part of it,” Boyer said.

Dine the Couve officially begins Oct. 1 and lasts through the month. This year, dozens of restaurants are participating, and it is more than just Vancouver. The event is open to restaurants throughout Clark County. 

Because of the pandemic, event organizers asked participating restaurants to offer carry-out options for their three-course meals. Many restaurants still offer dine-in experiences, but carry-out should be available.

Dine the Couve asks each restaurant to provide three-course meals for $25 each. It is up to the restaurant to come up with the menu items for the special deals.

At Little Italy’s Trattoria, for example, there will be two options for an appetizer, four options for the entree, and four options for dessert. 

For a list of all participating restaurants, and their 3-for-$25 menu plans, go to: https://www.visitvancouverusa.com/dinethecouve/

A newcomer to Dine the Couve this year is Slow Fox Chili Parlor, located at 108 East 7th Street in Vancouver. The parlor has a walk-up window and limited outdoor seating. 

Derek Saner of Slow Fox Chili Parlor is excited to be one of the many restaurants that will take part in Dine the Couve in October. Photo by Paul Valencia
Derek Saner of Slow Fox Chili Parlor is excited to be one of the many restaurants that will take part in Dine the Couve in October. Photo by Paul Valencia

Derek Saner opened Slow Fox in August of 2019, and he is excited to part of his first Dine the Couve. He noted his evening hours have been hit or miss lately, and he imagines this will help pick up business.

Saner grew up in Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a place that loves its chili. He said he was surprised that he could not find chili featured much in the Vancouver-Portland area.

Here he is now.

“I’m putting it out on the forefront,” he said. 

“Comfort food is never going to go out of style.”

He usually has four different types of chili every day, including one vegetarian dish.

For Dine the Couve, his three-course meal will be: A beet salad, then Chile-braised pork shoulder for the entree, and what he is calling Sweet Mimi for the dessert. Chocolate pot de creme, gluten-free butterscotch cookie crumbles, and vanilla whipped cream.

Saner enjoys explaining the name of his restaurant.

“Everybody rushes too much. We need to remember to slow down, breathe, take your time,” he said of the Slow in Slow Fox. “I love slow-cooking methods. I love the slow food movement, featuring local food, season food.”

And then the fox.

“I’ve always liked the fox as a kid growing up. A fox is fast. A fox is smart. Foxes aren’t slow. When you see those two words together, it might make you pause. ‘What’s going on there?’”

Chili is going on there.

Little Italy’s Trattoria and Slow Fox are two of 34 restaurants participating this year.

Boyer of Little Italy’s said he hopes other businesses in Dine the Couve have the same experiences he has had the last two years.

“It gets our menu out to people who haven’t been here in awhile, reminds them, and (we get) a lot of new people,” Boyer said. “It was really shocking how much traffic it brought.”

That’s always the plan, but it might be even more important this year, the year of the pandemic and the struggles in the restaurant business.

“We’re really hoping to see Dine the Couve help restaurants find a creative angle to bring back some of their past clientele and attract new customers to aid during these exceptionally challenging times,” said Michelle McKenzie, director of marketing at Visit Vancouver USA.

The list of the participating restaurants:

  • Back Alley Bar and Grill
  • Barlows Public House
  • Beaches Restaurant and Bar
  • Bleu Door Bakery
  • C’est La Vie
  • Eatery at Grant House
  • Elements Restaurant
  • Farrar’s Bistro
  • Feast at 316
  • Final Draft Taphouse
  • Ghost Runners Brewery
  • Grady’s Public House
  • Grays Restaurant
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery
  • Hudson’s Bar and Grill
  • Juliano’s Pizzeria
  • Little Italy’s Trattoria
  • Locust Cider and Brewing Co.
  • MADdogs Gourmet Hot Dogs
  • Moo Burgers and Beer
  • Mt. Tabor Brewing — The Pub
  • Niche Wine Bar
  • NOM NOM Restaurant and Grill
  • Nonavo Pizza
  • Pacific House (both locations)
  • Rally Pizza
  • Say Ciao! Tap Room & Eatery
  • Slow Fox Chili Parlor
  • Taco Spaceship/Fortside Brewing Co.
  • Trusty Brewing
  • UnderBar
  • Vancouver Pizza Company
  • Vault 31 Bar
  • Vinnie’s Pizza
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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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