A day some may look forward to each year, and a holiday others would prefer simply didn’t exist.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the many hues of pink, dozens of rose ads, and being surrounded by more heart-shaped chocolate than you can handle – Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and if you’re a restaurant owner, this may be one of the biggest days of the year for you.
Just like any other holiday, this Hallmark-heavy, love-filled 24 hours is one that is synonymous with a romantic meal to cap off the day’s expression of emotion. But what once was a formal occasion to be enjoyed by loving couples only, has taken a sharp turn and morphed into a time to acknowledge friendships, family, an opportunity to dine together as a group, and even a celebration in being single. #GalentinesDay or #SinglesDay anyone?
While we can certainly expect the majority of your tables or take out orders to lean towards 2 people, perhaps rethinking how you market your menu, encourage reservations for groups, and promote Valentine’s Day festivities a bit less traditionally, can be beneficial to the success of your night.
Follow Social Trends and Stick to Holiday Themes.
Simply being conscious of the fact that larger groups may want a nice place to dine out together is just the start. You may offer a price-fixed menu for couples, but perhaps in addition, offering family style portions to parties of 4 or more may be a way to attract larger tables. Offer a discount on a second bottle of wine to a larger table when one may not be enough for the group. Maybe offering ‘Valentine’s Party Packs’ to-go – consisting of combo meals or appetizers and entrees that compliment each other (with clever names) may work, and give the option to select the number of people it will feed.
Some may not want to get fancy, and opt to spend Valentine’s day hanging out at home with friends or a loved one. Personal heart-shaped pizzas to-go would be a great treat for someone dining solo, and of course larger pies to feed multiple people should be featured as well.
Decorating your items with edible flowers (although this can potentially get pricey) is a fun way to add something different to your typical plating techniques.
Think Pink. You can create red and pink cocktails or mocktails with candied rims, or slather sweeter drinks with chocolate for added decadence. Maybe the icing or decor on desserts or even your plate ware can incorporate hearts and themed colors as well.
Giving Something Away Isn’t A Loss…
Leaving a lasting impression on your guests goes a long way. The thoughtful way you say goodbye as they leave and wishing them a Happy Valentine’s Day are hospitality no-brainers… but perhaps offering them a small (inexpensive) festive dessert on the house, or sending them on their way with a few chocolates or a rose for the ladies as they leave, would be that much more effective. Going that extra inch will cause them to remember such a sweet notion the next time they are looking for somewhere to eat, or a place to bring their friends.
How Should I Spread The Word?
If you lack followers, staying diligent on providing valuable and shareable content is where you should start, but since we aren’t working with much time before the holiday, let’s explore other options.
Email Marketing is huge. Not only do your messages not get lost in the constant updating of someone’s social feed, but you have more room to work with. You can add more text, multiple images, and make it more personal. If you have collected email addresses, this is the way to go!
Let’s also not forget to spread the word to your guests while they are visiting you. Prep your servers for what’s to come, and have them inform your guests about your plans for Valentine’s Day, reminding them to jump on pre-ordering or firming up reservations before you fill up!
Pay Attention to Menu Items and Staffing
Using seasonally appropriate menu items should make crafting your menu easier, as those ingredients will be fresh, and should be readily available. Make sure however, to select items that are cost effective, as you will be doing larger volumes that evening and you want to be conscious of how costs will add up.
To follow that point, it’s essential that you should make sure to order enough to supply the demand of this holiday. The last thing you want is to run out of something on your limited menu (should you choose to offer only a selection of the full menu or price fixed menu that evening) and leave any of your guests disappointed.
This is why a price fixed menu may be a solution to maximize your revenue and help you plan. Since you will inevitably be catering largely to tables of two, you may want to avoid losing a table to a couple whose entire meal may consist of sharing a $6 appetizer and a $7 glass of wine (and then remain at the table all night staring lovingly into one another’s eyes) and instead lead them towards the experience of a full meal. Make it known at the time the table is reserved however, that there will be a special menu that evening, and share the cost so there are no surprises the night of.
In regards to staffing – take a step back and think about your stronger staff. It’s an important night to provide your best service and impress your guests. You don’t want to try and save money with under-staffing or trying out new positions for your team that night. Stick with what’s been working, and make sure to let your staff know they are on for that night because their skills are valued and you know that they will provide a wonderful experience for the guests that evening.
It also never hurts to offer staff incentives when they are scheduled to work holidays, or on days they normally aren’t scheduled to come in. It doesn’t have to be a large gesture, but perhaps a friendly competition or reaching a set goal, can help motivate and encourage some fun within your staff on an otherwise hectic evening.
Have Fun With It.
Valentine’s Day can be overwhelming as a restaurant owner, but try and have fun with it. Your guests will take notice of the vibe that you and your staff sets for the evening, and it will only enhance their visit. If you have any questions on how you can better market your business for this holiday or another one, email one of our marketing experts at firstname.lastname@example.org today!