For many, Valentine’s Day means candy, greeting cards, and flowers. It also means dining out, so restaurant operators have to make sure their operations are ready to handle the uptick in reservations and traffic on this annual holiday. According to Market Watch, 36% of respondents said they plan to go out for food or drinks on Valentine’s Day, a number that keeps rising each year. Even though candy, flowers, and greeting cards remain the most popular gift items, experiences such as a dinner out continue to rise in popularity to pre-pandemic levels. The national average price of a Valentine’s Day check is just shy of $290, according to HuffPost. Additionally, the #1 most desired gift for men is restaurant gift cards.
Here are seven tips to help you add a romantic spark to your restaurant in time for the big day.
1. Get creative on the menu. Add love-themed creative and festive menu items for this day. For example, Barrio, a Mexican restaurant, decided to add pink tacos and heart-shaped tres leches to the menu which was a huge hit with the guests. This could be a special appetizer or dessert that is heart shaped, colorful, or love themed. Or maybe famous rom-com movie themed cocktails. Check out this website for Valentine’s Day cocktail recipes if you need any ideas. For some restaurants, they also create a pre-fixe menu to streamline operations and market unique offerings to drive reservations – consider doing this as well to help alleviate time with staff and increased traffic.
2. Temporarily rename your popular dishes and add a punny name. If you don’t have the capacity to add new menu items, think of instead adding a different name to some of your top dishes, such as “I’m fondue of you” or “tortellini in love with you.”
3. Promote your restaurant ahead of time with promos and giveaways. These types of gifts mean a lot to guests. Keep in mind that 60% of repeat visits are driven by unforgettable experiences. Great giveaways could include a small box of chocolates to go, a welcome glass of champagne upon arrival, special V-day themed photobooth to commemorate the evening, or even heart-shaped dinner rolls. Whatever you do, make sure to promote it in advance to incentivize reservations. Learn how to promote your restaurant on Tik Tok as well.
4. Email your loyal customers in advance. A personalized email from your loyal customers’ favorite restaurant is special. Consider emailing them in advance, telling them you’ve saved them a table for the evening. This makes them feel rewarded as well as incentivizing them to RSVP for a table. If you need help creating an email campaign, check out this article.
5. Get your technology to be mobile. Handhelds can add speed, flexibility, and agility to your restaurant which is exactly what you need on a busy night. Flipping tables is easier and quicker because the guests can pay at the table. Or maybe you have contactless payment so guests can close their bill quicker while staff continues to serve other guests.
6. Organize your restaurant setup. Make sure your tables are arranged in the best way possible to handle couples, singles, and groups. Majority of your guests on Valentine’s Day will be two, but make sure you leave some tables for more (remember, Galentine’s Day is big now too!). Try not to cram tables too close so guests don’t feel overwhelmed during their dining experience, and staff aren’t able to maneuver around easily. Reservations can help you anticipate your traffic and times.
7. Make sure the kitchen is prepped and ready to handle an influx in orders. Kitchen management is important for many reasons. Your kitchen is the heart of the restaurant and needs to be armed with the right tools to efficiently manage orders. With robust Kitchen Management Software, your kitchen will be in good hands. This is also a place where pre-fixe menus can help streamline orders so the kitchen can prepare and deliver food more easily and quicker with more predictable orders.
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to market to your loyal base, promote your restaurant to new customers and try new and fun menu items. And don’t forget to encourage your guests to take photos and share on social media. Because more festive holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are around the corner, and people start thinking of where to go after seeing reviews and photos from Valentine’s Day!
Related: Maximize customer loyalty by utilizing your restaurant data