Why does Valentine’s have to be one day? This year consumers may want to celebrate the love a little bit more — even if it means doing so at home.
Some you may be able to capture as new regulars, others are out for a very rare dinner. That’s all great, take good care of these people, it’ll give you a nice bump in an otherwise slow month but there is still so much more potential you can get out of this day.
A prix fixe menu for both in-house dining and takeout makes sense on the big day. Perhaps offer special dinners for two in the days leading up to Valentine’s. For example, a large roasted red snapper for two with fennel pine nut stuffing or a classic Chȃteaubriand with a bouquetière of vegetables and a house-made béarnaise sauce might win over hearts. Maybe even a full rack of lamb in all its glory. The key here is spectacle — a plate for two has the potential to up the wow factor and the visuals can be just as important for making a memorable evening.
If you do a “date night” menu (offering an appetizer, entrées, and a bottle of wine for a set price) to fill the tables on what is usually a slow night, the week before might be the time to step it up with a small upcharge for a slightly better choice of entrée or special. Consider offering an expanded selection of wines or something else bubbly.
It’s easy to get so focused on food that sometimes you can forget there is more to the experience. However, this year it might be smart to simplify dining room décor and put an emphasis on takeout and delivery touches. For many couples, low light and social distancing for peace and quiet might be enough to set the mood anyway.
Pay special attention to takeout packaging. Elegant boxes, bags, and wrapping can set the tone. Think about including a brief, personalized note, especially for regulars. Get the most out of your swag — including a branded pen, matches, magnet, sticker, or something similar is a thoughtful addition and may be Instagram-worthy, helping to boost your brand recognition. It also makes sense to provide a sweet addition to any order. A decadent house-made chocolate truffle or delicate petit four makes for a perfect closer and cements the memory of the evening in your guests' minds.
Know Your Diners
This year, more than ever, diners may be looking to celebrate Valentine’s week at non-traditional venues. The trendy new hamburger joint with amazing fries might be better loved than a special, candle-lit evening. Same with the hot new pizza place featuring certified Neapolitan pies and creative new recipes. And for many couples, the best Valentine’s Day perk may be simply a break from cooking for the fam. So don’t forget to create a special children’s menu to go along with the adult version — and give them some real options. Not every kid lives on chicken nuggets or spaghetti. Take some of your standard favorites and add a few that mirror your own menu. Dial down the spices but keep the taste and the quality. The gnocchi in basil pesto that parents love will also fly with the kids in a more simple brown butter. Or you could change your mushroom risotto into a creamy Parmesan version.
An expanded Valentine’s Week, special menus, romantically-themed touches — all of these will help elevate your dining services. And don’t forget to get the word out with Facebook posts announcing your plans, Instagram photos of special dishes, and emails to your regulars. If you don’t have an email list of your regulars to let them know about special nights and exclusive offers, it’s time to get on it! February can be a lean time. Making the most of Valentine’s Week could be just the thing to add some love to your bottom line.