It may not be a national holiday, but Valentine’s Day continues to be an important entry in the calendar for many Australians.

In 2018, research by Relationships Australia revealed that 36% of people intended to celebrate Valentine’s Day. More importantly, their average spend on the most romantic day of the year would be around $75 each.

This is great news for restaurants, but how can you best prepare for a busy Valentine’s Day? Granted, it won’t exactly be a ‘normal’ Valentine’s Day with capacity limits in venues, however many will still be looking for a romantic meal. Many couples will still be searching for that romantic Valentine’s Day setting and may not want to go through the trouble of cooking, but rather enjoying each other’s company. This is where your venue can come in and offer either a table in-house, or a romantic dinner for couples to enjoy at home. This is where your online menu and online ordering system comes in handy. Whether you’re serving to your maximum permitted capacity or preparing for a surge in orders to go, you’ll want to make use of this day.

Here are a few strategies that will have you making meaningful connections with lots of new diners.

Think about what you’d want to eat

The ambiance and layout of your restaurant will be important on Valentine’s Day, but nothing beats the role your food will play.

If you want to put together the most romantic, pleasurable menu for February 14th, have a think about what you’d like to eat. What sort of dishes would you prepare for a loved one? Which starters, mains and desserts are likely to keep the conversation flowing and the wine pouring?

Depending on your establishment, it doesn’t need to be fancy, either. In fact, home-cooked food and the simplest of signature dish favourites might be all you need.

Add value

If you want your Valentine’s diners to be full and happy, you’ll need to have a think about how you can add value to the ‘normal’ dining experience.

For instance, you might want to add in a few extras that aren’t displayed on the menu. A surprise bread selection or free glass of bubbly might do it, but pay attention to your pricing, too. It isn’t unusual for restaurants to run special pricing on Valentine’s Day; just make sure yours represents real value.

Don’t promise more than your kitchen can deliver

It’s tempting to go wild with your Valentine’s Day plans, but if that results in a menu and added value extras that the kitchen can’t handle, you’ll end up disappointing lots of diners.

Valentine’s Day can be tricky for kitchens, because they’ll mainly be dealing with two-cover orders for the entire shift. This makes turnaround times challenging and the sheer influx of orders sometimes overwhelming.

Spend time with your chef well in advance of Valentine’s Day and identify the volume of orders they can safely handle and how that translates into your romantic menu.

Make sure the team knows what’s expected of them

Your team will make or break your Valentine’s Day plans, but if it’s the latter, you may have yourself to blame.

To ensure they know exactly what’s expected of them on the day, make sure you bring the entire team in on the planning from the very start. Get their input on menu ideas, execution and any added-value experiences.

The more you involve them in the planning process, the less reason they’ll have to complain about a super-busy and badly planned February 14th.

Make sure prep lists are watertight and that everyone has their own roles and responsibilities – even if some of the stuff you ask them to do extends beyond their normal roles.

Quick-fire Valentine’s Day ideas for restaurants

Now that you know how to prepare for Valentine’s Day, here’s some quick-fire ideas for setting your restaurant apart from the competition.

  • Come up with a theme. Who says you need the standard “love is in the air” theme when you could instead design a menu based around classic romantic movies, or temporarily install a jukebox for diners to pick ‘their’ songs?
  • Host a virtual cooking class. Why not bring your romantic diners ‘into the kitchen’ so to speak for couples cooking classes? A meal and an experience in one night – sounds perfect to us!
  • Don’t forget families. Not everyone is blessed with a reliable babysitter, therefore why should parents miss out on a romantic night out or a lovely evening at home? Be the restaurant that actively promotes its Valentine’s dining experience for the entire family.
  • Don’t forget singles. Valentine’s Day is one of mixed feelings for the singles crowd, but there’s nothing wrong with designing a menu or evening around them. Let’s celebrate those who don’t have someone!
  • Run a Facebook Ad campaign. Facebook Ads is a tricky platform to master, but Valentine’s Day is a time when you can really dig into its targeting features to find the most loved-up couples in your locality who may be up for a meal out on the big day.

Wrapping up

Getting ready for February 14th as a restaurateur should be fun, exciting and the perfect opportunity to plan for a day when you could significantly increase your spend-per-diner.



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H&L POS has been delivering POS solutions with extensive back of house and staff management systems to the hospitality industry for more than 30 years. As hospitality people at heart, H&L understand the critical requirements for each food and beverage operation. We have staff in every state of Australia providing direction and advice as you grow and as technology changes.
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