Dining out is one of the most popular ways for couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which gives restaurateurs a tremendous profit making opportunity in the midst of the winter lull. And with February 14 falling on a Sunday this year, there’s a chance to generate even more revenue than usual by offering breakfast and/or brunch in addition to dinner.
But Valentine’s Day success doesn’t just happen. You must be willing to temporarily tailor your menu, decor, services, and operating hours towards attracting customers for the holiday, especially if your restaurant is not typically known as a romantic destination. Here are some suggestions on how to do just that, even with a limited marketing budget:
- Make sure would-be diners know your restaurant will be doing something special for Valentine’s Day by getting the word out on all of your social media accounts and posting notices within your establishment.
- Offer a complimentary appetizer, drinks, dessert, or other freebie or discount for the first 20-25 reservations or for making a reservation prior to a certain date to encourage early responses.
- Create holiday-specific dessert options, such as red and pink or heart themed desserts, or ‘dessert for two’ menu offerings.
- Based on the number of early reservations you get and the number of walkups you can expect, be sure to have enough kitchen help and waitstaff able (and willing) to work.
- Alter the ambience of your restaurant to suit the occasion by dimming the lights, placing candles on each table, choosing soft background music, and adding red or pink accents to the interior decor.
- Create some kind of keepsake that customers can take home to remember the experience. Popular keepsakes include special menu covers, custom champagne flutes, personalized matchbooks, or a printed photo of the couple.
- Promote red or pink drinks such as strawberry daiquiris, pomegranate margaritas, Jack Rose cocktails, blood orange mimosas, and cosmopolitans to help diners get in the spirit of the evening. Save time and keep the fun flowing by using a Bunn frozen drink dispenser or a Waring high-powered commercial blender (both available at ShortOrder.com) behind the bar.
- Serve heart-shaped versions of appetizers, breads, and desserts, and arrange the food in the main course into a heart shape prior to serving.
- Give each departing couple a red rose and a voucher or discount coupon for a future date.
While some people might cynically dismiss Valentine’s Day as a “made up” holiday, few restaurateurs can afford to ignore the occasion. Demonstrate your willingness to share Valentine’s Day with your customers by using some of the ideas listed above to make their dining experience unforgettable.