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Customers Love to Love You, Baby, Especially on Valentine’s Day

February 4, 2020

Original content c/o: National Restaurant Association

Fun facts and quick tips to help make your restaurants a hit this holiday.

Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, which could mean that one of your restaurant’s busy weekend nights just got busier.

According to online reservationist OpenTable, Valentine’s Day is the most popular reservation day of the year. In fact, the company says its dinner reservation requests go up 500% on that day alone. What else do consumers want when dining out on Valentine’s Day?

  • On average, customers book their dinner reservations 10 days out.
  • The most requested time is 7:00pm.
  • Italian restaurants are one of the site’s the most popular Valentine’s Day destinations.
  • More than half of diners (63%) making Valentine’s Day reservations through Open Table prefer restaurants offering prix-fixe menus.
  • 55% of millennials polled on the site say the ideal Valentine’s Day gift is an “experience.”

That said, we’ve done some digging and come up with five great tips to help you make the most of this romantic holiday and maximize sales:

1. Couples dining: If two deuces are forming four-top tables in your dining room, split them up. Most of your customers will be couples, so if you can squeeze in a few more two-tops, do it. Groups and singles will dine out too; that means a few larger setups, and bar or counter seating, will come in handy. Also, consider one communal table.

2, Attend your reservations: Put someone on call duty and start a waiting list as reservations fill up. People are really hoping to score a table; so, if anyone cancels, be ready to call back those customers you originally had to turn down.

3. Don’t change your menu: Valentine’s Day is not the occasion to get cute with your tried-and-true menu or to try to work with new ingredients you haven’t offered before. If you want to get fancy:
- Offer a little chef’s tasting
- Create a sharable dessert special
- Include good, quality chocolates with the bill

4. Do get creative with cocktails. With the holiday on a Friday, guests are more likely to order a cocktail. Use the occasion to market a few craft cocktails.

5. Offer prix-fixe menus: Combine a few of your best courses into a prix-fixe that makes it easy to order and is perceived as a good deal. Offer a 3-, 4- and 5-course menu to give customers good options in any price range.

6. Do some sensitivity training: Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day can attract a lot of amateur diners who might not know their way around a confit or coulis. Ask your servers to be especially kind to help alleviate any awkwardness for those on dates.