It was not news we were expecting.
My youngest daughter and I regularly meet for dinner at Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro downtown. We’ve occasionally tried new places but always we come back to our favourite.
It’s been that way for over 10 years, “Ever since I reached legal drinking age,” she tells our server last night as we shared our favourite meal.
We’re regulars. We always get the same table at the front, by the big windows that lead out to their small curbside patio. We also always share the same meal. Haricots Verts. 3 Cheese Plate. Mussels. The only thing we change up are which 3 cheeses we share and, if dessert is also on the evening’s agenda, our go to is whatever the chef has created as the Trio of Macaron.
It isn’t that we don’t like change. It is that for my youngest daughter and I, we like the familiarity, the rhythm, the feeling that this is ‘our place, our thing’. And we know the food is great, there service stellar and the atmosphere exactly what we want — low key, comfortable, classy.
When her sister is in town, we make ‘our place, our thing’ Cilantro’s. Another restaurant owned by the same corporation, like Divino, it has been in operation for over thirty years. Since my daughters were little girls, Cilantro has been our family dinner favourite. Or, as my youngest daughter quipped last night, “The place we know my sister will always cry in!”
That’s also one of our things, our dinners are not just time to share a meal, they are a time to deep dive into our hearts and share what’s happening, inside and out, our lives.
Fortunately, there’s no news of Cilantro closing.
Divino’s closing is unfortunately, a sign of the times. World slump in oil prices, downturn in economy leads to less corporate lunches and soirees. The downtown restaurants, faced with rising wage costs, carbon tax and decreasing customer base are feeling the pinch.
I just wasn’t prepared for it to be ‘our place’ to close!
Last night as we sipped our wine and shared a bowl of mussels, our server told us some of the stories of the regulars who have been streaming in to visit one last time.
Like the couple sitting on the patio who had their first date in that same spot almost 20 years ago. They’ve celebrated every one of their 15 wedding anniversaries there, and last night was the last one.
There have been a lot of tears, a lot of laughter, a lot of ‘what next?’, she told us. Still in shock, she’s swimming in the five stages of grief. “I’m kind of stuck in denial,” she said. “I’ll probably stay there until the last menu ticket is placed on the counter, the last drop of wine poured.”
I’m with her, and because I loathe to say good-bye, C.C., my daughter, her boyfriend and I will be some of the last guests to bid adieu to one of ‘our favourites’ on Saturday night.
“Change is here to stay,” an old boss of mine used to say.
I just wish that sometimes, it wouldn’t change the places I like to go.
One thing it won’t change however, is my youngest daughter’s and my bi-weekly dinners. We’ll just have to stretch our minds and dining muscles to find a new restaurant to call, ‘our place, our thing’.