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Dinner and a Movie, Tahoe Style

Tahoe Art Haus opening with Trattoria and dinner at Wolfdale’s
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Remember back in the good old days, before Netflix and take-out, when a night on the town meant going out to dinner and then to the cinema? Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema teamed up with Wolfdale’s to host just such an evening in Tahoe City on Sept. 5. Also the opening night for the cinema, the event will feature Trattoria  — a film about family and the restaurant business, which is chockfull of Tahoe ties — followed by a Q&A with the director, and after party featuring dinner, music, and bocce at Wolfdale’s. While the 100 available tickets to Friday’s event sold out, the film will be showing at the cinema on Sept. 6 and 7.


Trattoria tells the story of a chef who opens an Italian restaurant in San Francisco and his struggles trying to make a name for his new eatery while redeveloping his relationship with his son, who comes to work for his dad. The film also incorporates interviews with real chefs, including Food Network competitors and famed chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Traci Des Jardins, and Tahoe restaurateurs Mark Estee, Billy McCollough, and Douglas Dale.


At first, the collaborative event between the cinema and restaurant seems logical. But as details about the film and the making-of the film unfold, it becomes an obvious choice, a full-circle and exciting family affair. The director of Trattoria, Jason Wolos, is the nephew of Douglas Dale, owner of Wolfdale’s. Douglas’ daughter, Christine, organizes the restaurant’s special events and was the second assistant director for the film.

“This is a foodie movie,” said Wolos. “A challenge for independent filmmakers is finding people to make the script come alive, and one thing we needed to do was make sure we had enough pretty food shots, and do everything on a very small budget.”

Wolos received quotes for food styling that ranged from $27,000 to $50,000, which were all way beyond his $4,000 budget. When filming was postponed and the contracted stylist backed out, Wolos had to call in a favor from his uncle. Douglas ended up spending six out of 18 total filming days on set as the food consultant, creating all of the dishes featured in the foodie film. In fact, the hands that are in many of the close-up food shots in the film are Douglas’ hands, composing the dishes for the perfect scene.


The filming was split between San Francisco — in a North Beach restaurant transformed into Cinquecento, the Italian restaurant in the film — and locales in North Lake Tahoe — including Wolfdale’s and Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats for the local chef interviews. Between familiar faces and places featured in the film, and a storyline that many Tahoe folks may relate to, the dinner and a movie event is an increasingly local-centric event.

“The experience of working with my dad at the restaurant and on the film, and with my cousin and his wife on the film, resonates with the movie because it’s a lot about family and the restaurant business. It definitely hits home,” said Christine Dale. “It’s a movie based on food and the restaurant business, [and] I think people in Tahoe appreciate good local food and many of them even work in restaurants … that will really resonate with locals.”

This event also marks the opening of the only movie theater on the North Shore. Located in the former cinema location in the Cobblestone Center, the theater has been resurrected by partners Mark Gogolewski and Steven Siig (husband of Moonshine Ink Associate Editor Melissa Siig). Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema will show independent and commercial films, provide a space for local performance groups, and will serve beer, wine, and popcorn.

“I’m very excited to support this small cinema; they’re a dying breed,” Wolos said. “I used to visit Douglas when I was a little kid, and I used to go to the Cobblestone Cinema to see movies all the time. So it’s really fitting that this film is the opening event for the venue.”


Dinner & a Movie (sold out): Friday, Sept. 5, 6 p.m., Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema; after party 9 p.m., Wolfdale’s    

Additional Trattoria showings: Saturday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema,

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March 8, 2018