After Mother's Day, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest holidays for restaurants — so it's crucial to get it right. Specials and promos can attract lovebirds and boost sales.

According to OpenTable, most diners make reservations less than 10 days before a meal. This is where the power of promotion comes in. Valentine’s-themed specials and deals can be quick, efficient, but impactful ways to create some buzz around your restaurant and persuade potential patrons to choose your business over another.

Fixe your Menu

Research suggests that 56% of diners want a classic three-course meal on Valentine’s Day. Prix fixe is key because not only can you downsize your everyday menu for more manageability; you can highlight items you already have on hand. Think red wine, chilies, oysters, and pistachios, for romantic starters. Consider char-grilled oysters from Empire’s Treasure® with a Sriracha vinaigrette, or pistachio-crusted goat cheese with toast points to tantalize taste buds.

Consider adding on a wine pairing or specials on bottled wine to get guests to spend more and linger longer. And you can’t go wrong with a classic steak dinner for the main attraction. Serve with sides you have on hand and put creative spins on them for the special day. Of course, have a pescatarian, vegan, or vegetarian option to make sure all guests are included.

Patrons are more likely to indulge in sweets on Valentine’s Day, so let the culinary creativity sparks fly. Consider a decadent sticky toffee pudding with Nature's Best® Vanilla Ice Cream, strawberry tart, or lean into the romance with a heart-shaped chocolate lava cake for two. Mini desserts are always a hit so having a flight of cheesecakes, cookies, or fudge can be hit with couples and groups alike.

Singles Specials & Galentine’s

Remember — couples aren't the only ones looking for a special meal. Consider a prix fixe menu on a sliding scale price for groups. You'll extend your reach to solo diners looking to treat themselves, groups looking to celebrate "Galentine's Day," or families wanting to include the kids. Offer rosé flights, special desserts that feed groups, and discounts for parties of six or more. Many groups opt to celebrate Galentine’s Day with brunch, so having several themed brunch options, mimosas, and sangria punch can be a helpful boost for your Valentine’s Day sales.

Sweeten your Sips

Curate a specialty drink menu for the big day that's well-rounded: spirit-forward like a Campari Manhattan, juicy like a pomegranate margarita, and have a mocktail option too. Consider a theme for naming your menu, using famous romantic poets or song titles. And a complimentary Champagne toast before the meal can go a long way in pleasing guests and enticing them to spend more. Advise your servers to offer coffee, after-dinner drinks, or specialty dessert cocktails for a chance to send your guests’ experience over the top and increase check averages.

With Valentine's Day falling on a Tuesday this year, you can make the most of the holiday by extending LTOs all week long, and through the weekend. Studies concluded that while more than 50% of respondents plan to dine out on February 14, 36% said they plan to celebrate on Friday or Saturday. Run your specials through the weekend and you'll be celebrating too.

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