The Ultimate Restaurant Prep Guide for Valentine’s Day
Posted: Feb. 05, 2018
While Eagles’ fans spend their day recovering from last night’s Super Bowl LII celebrations—you have no time to waste! The food and beverage industry has just over one full week to prepare for its own “Super Bowl” madness: Valentine’s Day.
Second to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the busiest time for restaurants. In 2017, Americans spent $3.8 billion to take their significant others out on romantic dates.
Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday this year, your dining and beverage establishment is going to see an uptick in foot traffic throughout the weekend; which means your restaurant has a few busy days coming up. Are you and your team ready?
Get organized with our list of Valentine’s Day preparations below.
Change Your Floor Plan to Accommodate More Couples
Valentine’s Day is a couples’ holiday. Chances are high that your reservations list is full of parties of two, so break up any large tables to accommodate more two-tops. You’ll also find that most reservations are scheduled for the evening. You can stagger your reservations, or set up designated seating hours, such as 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. This allows couples to enjoy a lengthy date while optimizing your table-turnover possibilities.
Do take precautions against overbooking reservations. As tempting as it may be to guarantee a fully booked night, Valentine’s Day is not the night to tempt the Cancellation Gods. Your guests have high expectations for how this particular night will go, and you don’t want to ruin that by overbooking your tables and not having any seats left. Not only will people leave angry and upset, the story of how your restaurant handled their reservation will get passed through their social circles.
Avoid losing the trust of your clientele. Instead, ask guests to respect a 15- or 20-minute grace period, where after forfeiting their table to the next guest in line.
Schedule Your Most Experienced Staff
Valentine’s Day might seem like an excellent day to train new hires on managing a slammed night, but save the experimental training technique for another rush hour. Through this upcoming holiday schedule your best and most seasoned staff.
Because this holiday is unlike any others, your guests will be more sensitive to the table etiquette of their servers and bussers. Call a short meeting for your front-of-house to remind the team how important it is to present themselves—and your restaurant—with their best. Review the menu specials, offer precise details, and prepare your staff to know the ins and outs of the wine and food lists. This will also help your experienced team to upsell any luxurious dinner, cocktails, or wines specials being offered.
Additionally, emotions are going to be running high, so share some points on how to smoothly navigate sticky situations with poise and ease (like if a glass of wine spills on a customer or the kitchen is backed up). Give real-life examples of problems that can arise and recommend solutions. Close out the meeting by reminding your staff that you and the other managers will be there for back-up.
Experiment with Food Trends
Seeking to impress their partners, customers are more adventurous on Valentine’s Day. This makes it the perfect time to show off your kitchen staff’s skills or experiment new recipes on customers.
Food trends in 2018 are exciting, and present new ideas for unique dishes, such as:
- Plant-based proteins for an entrée dish to impress the vegetarian customer.
- House-made charcuterie and cheeses for easily shared plates.
- Unusual house-made condiments you want feedback on.
- Cotton candy, flavor injectors, and artisan ice creams for playful desserts.
- Exotic foods influenced by Korean, Filipino, or Indian cuisines that excite guests.
Let these food trends inspire new ways to introduce the Valentine’s Day food classics: oysters, shrimp, and strawberries.
Create a Themed Cocktail
Get as creative with your Valentine’s Day-themed cocktail list as you do with your menu. In 2018, cocktail trends are falling into two categories: well-crafted and creative, or classic revivals. Here are some ideas based on cocktails trends in 2017:
- Highballs for the nostalgically inclined.
- Tiki-inspired cocktails to remind couples of beachy vacations past.
- Aperitivos—anything with champagne and you have the perfect drink to start the ultimate date night with.
Give a Gift
Not only have customers chosen your restaurant among all others, they’ve chosen your establishment for a special evening with their loved one. A small gift from your restaurants cements your role in this couple’s life moving forward.
Depending on your price point and clientele, choose how extravagant you want to be. Here are some ideas below:
- A single red rose for the women.
- A free dessert.
- A free glass of champagne.
Gifts can also be a powerful marketing tool. For instance, tie a paper ribbon around a red rose that invites guests back for another free glass of champagne. Send guests home with handmade chocolates or candies to remember their experience with or even another bottle of champagne. Set up a raffle for a free dinner on the house or a date night at the local theatre (starting first with dinner at your place).
Avoid being too salesy so as not to ruin the romantic moment. Instead, think of these gifts as brand reinforcements more than immediate sales calls.
Over the next few days, prepare your restaurant for the second busiest holiday of the year with our Restaurant Prep Guide for Valentine’s Day. See here for more ways to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day.
Posted: Feb. 05, 2018 | Written By: Hilary Wainwright