The romance. The love … The pressure. Filling seats in your dining room this Valentine’s Day can make even the best of us in the business anxious. You just can’t have enough two-top tables. Regular diners might feel like it won’t be the same type of experience that they’re used to. These are smaller hurdles, but you can add some spark to your venue (and bottom line) this Valentine’s Day and serve up some love by creating specialized, romantically themed menus and a targeted marketing campaign.
After all, Valentine’s Day is big business. In fact, last year the National Restaurant Association found that roughly a quarter of all Americans dined out in restaurants on Feb. 14 (second only to Mother’s Day, which is the top dining-out occasion).
So, targeting a promotional Valentine’s Day campaign is a great move. Take out an ad in your local paper, pin an ad on local gym activity boards or use your guest database for a direct mailing campaign featuring a simple, themed calling card inviting guests to your restaurant with an incentive (such as a complimentary cocktail for each, or a dessert).
Also, take note: your campaign doesn’t necessarily need to be geared only towards couples. Offer a strategy that reminds your target audience that sure, it’s great to celebrate a significant other, but it’s also a sweet gesture to acknowledge all those they love. Whether taking a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, elderly neighbor, admired teacher, and the like, to lunch, brunch or dinner Valentine’s Day weekend … showing they care is key.
Now, on to the menus. Focus on both food and beverage operations to impress guests with something a bit different for Valentine’s Day.
- A great cocktail can compliment your guest’s experience. Encourage your bar talent to create special, romantically themed libations such as a bright, flavorful, rum punch or a hand-crafted raspberry champagne cocktail; or focus on classics such as a traditional martini or Clementine (typically infused with chili) for something interesting.
- Make your after-dinner offerings extra sweet with desserts* meant to be shared. Try these on for size: put your stamp on a perennial crowd pleaser and create a mini red velvet cake complete with fondant hearts; serve warm and wonderful beignets with fresh raspberry, chocolate or caramel dipping sauces; create a mini deliciously rich chocolate cake complete with fresh whipped cream and red berries; or serve a decadent chocolate mousse bowl for two for a romantic finish.
*To get extra promotional mileage, consider offering guests the opportunity to pre-order a romantically themed dessert from your restaurant they can enjoy at home after dinner.
Happy Valentine’s Day! … photo courtesy of Founding Farmers DC