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That's Amore and Dining Out for Life: Giving back, including $1,500 for Lifelong

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Photo courtesy of Guy Devillier
Photo courtesy of Guy Devillier

Keeping the spirit of giving alive during the pandemic has proven difficult, but for Guy Devillier and David Hoefer, current co-owners of That's Amore Italian Café, this challenge has also paved the way for innovative new approaches to give back. Their latest motto spins community hardship around to reflect on a small privilege: "We get to carry others."

Twenty years after meeting on the street at Seattle Pride, the couple — who said they never planned to be restaurant owners — have brought That's Amore back to life from the verge of being shut down, and fortified its status as a Mt. Baker neighborhood treasure.

When the previous owner, Paul McMillion, passed on the business, Devillier and Hoefer were already established community members who dedicated countless hours to the people around them. Now, in their time of need, that same community raised over $43,000 to help keep the restaurant's doors open.

It is no surprise then that, even while receiving government funds to get That's Amore through the pandemic, the duo never lost focus of who they serve.

"We thought, we're getting all this, we have got to give back to the people that support us also. We have a great neighborhood community that has supported us through everything we've gone through," said Hoefer.

Photo courtesy of Guy Devillier  

Dining Out for Life, more than one night a year
Dining Out for Life is an annual fundraiser that partners local restaurants with HIV service organizations in order to benefit both.
This year, DOFL was September 30, with over 50 Seattle restaurants participating to fundraise for Lifelong.

That's why That's Amore, still seating diners at a limited capacity, thought that perhaps one night wouldn't be enough for such an impactful campaign. In their typical above-and-beyond fashion, Devillier and Hoefer devised a head-start for their restaurant's 2021 participation.

That's Amore partnered with Cigna, which promised to match each donation, and thus began a weeklong Dining Out for Life. Twenty percent of sales each night went directly to Lifelong, and customers were asked to privately match the 20% gratuity on their bill on top of that, so that in total up to 40% of each night's sales might go directly to Lifelong.

By the end of the week, the limited-capacity restaurant had $750 for Dine Out for Life, which was then matched by Cigna (for a total of $1500), and customers finished their meals knowing that their 20% donations were being doubled. Though Devillier and Hoefer don't know the total of the additional private donations, they can confidently say their work paid off, with a total of at least three times their original pledge of $500.

Photo courtesy of Guy Devillier  

Role models for giving, all year round
This isn't the first time the couple decided to facilitate charity work at That's Amore. On Juneteenth, for example, they launched a social media campaign for their customers to support the Northwest African American Museum's Unity Fund. They raised hundreds of dollars in one night, with some patrons making additional private donations.

"What these trying times have taught us is that people still want to be part of a big give, even if its just a few dollars," Devillier said. "People are just looking for that little space, so we thought we'd create a space for people to do more than they originally thought they could."

During the lockdown, they also offered free meals to anyone in need who approached them, and helped to feed frontline medical workers with Feed the Fearless and We Got This Seattle.

"It means everything to us that we get to provide such a special place where moments like this are possible," said Hoefer.

That's Amore is located at 1425 31st Ave. S, just south of Mt. Baker's scenic viewpoint. The owners would be thrilled to host you or place a to-go order — and they are currently plotting their next "big give" as the holidays approach.