Valentine’s Day is coming and it’s going to be big.
While Valentine’s Day falls on the same day, February 14th, this year it happens to be on a Sunday – which means restaurants across the country will get people celebrating the big V Day on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday evening.
We asked the best restaurants across the Bay Area what they were doing to prepare for the big weekend. Here are what some restaurants had to say about what they do to prepare for Valentine’s Day:
Expand marketing initiatives
- Promote the whole weekend. Encourage customers to come all weekend, not just Sunday.
- Use social. Make sure you have content scheduled out on Facebook & Instagram ahead of time, heavily promoting your big weekend. Additionally, make sure you are able to handle questions coming in on different social platforms in a timely fashion.
- In-house marketing. In addition to advertising on your social channels, market Valentine’s Day in the restaurant. Flyers on the check presenters are a great way to inform your customers what you’re doing.
Design a food menu for the occasion
- Create a prix fixe menu. Your menu should have at least four courses. Stick with approachable things, well known, flavors people are familiar with. The same thing goes with the wine, otherwise many people will want modifications. Make sure you have a couple different options for each course and be prepared with an alternative menu options in place for allergies, gluten and vegetarians.
- Invest time in plating. This is the perfect moment to stand out and create a lasting memory.
- Make dessert spectacular. The dessert course is extra special on Valentine’s Day. Use ingredients that pair with romance. For example, passion fruit, chocolate, pink peppercorn and blood orange. Additionally offer a sweet dessert wine to compliment this course, there’s many options from Port, Madeira to Late Harvest.
Boost wine sales
- Offer wine pairings. A few good tips are to pair lighter wines with lighter dishes and heavier wines with heavier dishes. Start with something that pairs with champagne (like oysters), make sure the staff knows that salty dishes call for acidic wines, that strong meats go with full body wines and so on.
- Two wine pairings. Offer two different wine menu selections – a Standard Pairing and a Premium Pairing. For those that want to make this an extra special night, you’ll be able to up-sell some of your more expensive wines.
Emphasize service details
- All weekend. Extend your service beyond Sunday only. Some establishments are serving rosé champagne all weekend or offering cheaper versions of the menu on Friday and Saturday.
- Timing. You can opt to make the evening a one-turn only with a longer course menu and more exquisite ingredients (3:00) or use the normal ingredients and have a slightly shorter turn (1:30). Make sure guests are aware of the extended experience.
- Go the extra mile. Offer something thoughtful with the check presenter: a rose, a hearted chocolate, a half glass of champagne, etc.
- Keep the phone manned. Have someone be able to answer the phone at all times of the day and night. Additionally, make sure this person has the time to take special notes – expect to accommodate for surprises from one guest to another.
- Staff appropriately. Have your best staff on the floor and allocate them to your best customers accordingly.
- PoS input. Make sure all items are on your PoS system so staff can look the menu ahead of time, learn where everything is and how to properly place the evening’s orders.
- Make it special. The atmosphere is almost as important as the food and the wine. Make it authentic.
- Include the staff. Train your staff to be extra attentive. Make sure your staff understands the menu, the substitution options, the wine being offered and so on. Whatever you do, make sure your staff knows that this is NOT a normal night. Customers should not feel rushed!
- Be creative. Surprise your customers, for example you can offer flowers to the ladies at the end of the evening.
Other useful tips
- Confirm. Call Friday to every guest on your reservation list to confirm their reservations.
- Know your customers. Try to learn something about your non-regulars. Make them feel special, just like regulars do. It’s a great opportunity to convert that customer for life.
Valentine’s Day is an important day to couples all over. Make sure you make it special, but not overly cheesy. In the words of Guillaume Bienaime, Chef and Owner of Zola in Palo Alto:
“Whatever you do, be authentic to your restaurant. Keep it real and personal.”