Valentines is one of the biggest days of the year in the foodservice industry, second only to Mother’s Day. A few fun facts to consider:
- Men make the vast majority of Valentines bookings.
- Most reservations are made the same week or a few days before Valentines. Many are last minute.
- Cancellation rates and no-show are the lowest rate for the year.
- The most popular foods are Steak, Lobster, Italian foods
- Most people spend at least 25% more than normal on Valentines dinner.
- Some restaurants report a 500% increase over regular business on Valentines.
- More than 90% of married couples will spend money on their spouses for Valentine’s Day.
- Some people will have a romantic lunch instead, because going out for dinner also includes babysitting etc.
- Children love Valentine’s Day too, and many restaurants cater to the kids for this night also.
- Not everyone has a Valentine’s date, and some places run specials for “Anti-Valentine’s Day”, singles, break-ups and anyone else not celebrating on 14th February.
- The US restaurant industry expects to serve 70 million people for Valentines this year.
Some inspiration from US Meats, one of BFS’ fine suppliers of quality meats:
“As Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’m hoping that you have someone who has stolen your heart… On that topic, a comrade in Singapore gave me this quote of the day, “Create Something Worth Stealing.” Think about it in reference to all the things you do in your operation. Maybe it is a new menu idea, or a new cut merchandising idea, or a new approach to your customer. It’s the beginning of a new year…just do it!”
The average person will spend from $100-$300 on Valentines, between dinner, flowers, candy and gifts. Some may spend less, likely due to economic constraints, but others will decide to splurge after cutting back in other ways. Either way, money will be spent for Valentines and it is up to you to gain some revenue for your business.
VALENTINE’S CHECK LIST
In case you’re running a little behind, here are a few things to help you along.
- Create a special Valentines Menu. If you’re serving lunch, offer an updated entree with a good price. Speak to your BFS sales rep about specials, and get suggestions on value cuts and seafood.
- Tie in a beverage and dessert for a great package special.
- Popular ideas: Special Menu items, Prix Fixe Menu (set menu, table d’hôte), Tasting Menu (courses paired with wines), Couples Menu. Choosing one of these proven methods will allow you to control your ordering, put time into your recipes, take photos if you can and keep your kitchen contained on the big day. Less options, less headache and you can count your money in advance.
- Consider a to-go lunch special for those having a special lunch delivery, or perhaps treating themselves on Valentines.
- Be sure to promote your menu!
- Design your menu in MS Word or Publisher, or if you can, use a graphics program or graphic artist. Either way, make sure you spell everything correctly and use a clean design.
- Be sure to include your telephone number and ask people to make reservations.
- Add your menu to your website and Facebook. If you use Pinterest, Twitter, etc. also post it there. You never know where people are searching for things to eat on Valentines.
- Look for cheap and free ways to promote your menu. Send it out on What’s App or BBM, post it on your personal pages, print it out and distribute it to your current customers and email it out to everyone you know.
- Consider offering a package deal to those gentlemen calling in for last minute reservations. Work with a nearby store to have a basket, flowers or other gift ready for his date.
- Make sure you have enough staff on hand! Valentines is a special night and all hands are needed on deck to ensure your customers have a great experience.
- Clean it up. This is the time to make sure your restaurant is clean and spruced up. Deep clean the floors, clean the fans, wash the windows and ensure every glass, fork, spoon, napkin, condiment bottle and table is sparkling clean. See your BFS sales rep for economical cleaning products that save you money while getting the job done properly. NOTE: Joy is NOT to be used for cleaning floors! Try Enhance by NCL for a non-slip floor cleaner that does not require rinsing. Save the Joy for your dirty dishes.
- Decorate your tables. There is always at least one staff member with an eye for decor. Utilise the talents of your staff and assign this person to coming up with economical and beautiful table and store decorations. Consider candles, lowered lighting, special uniforms, flower petals on the tables and pretty napkins.
- Parking – do you have proper parking? You may be astonished to know how many people turn away when they cannot find parking that is accessible, safe and available. Let your customers know their parking options, and offer a valet service if you think it will help business.
- Order roses and give each customer a rose.
- Organise your music in advance. The music should not be so loud or intrusive that couples cannot hear each other, nor should it be so slow that it bores your customers to tears. The object is to get them to relax, enjoy their meal and leave on time with a good feeling.
- Staff dress: This is the time that the staff can add that extra touch by wearing their very best, or something special. Even as simple as a carnation in the lapel or in the hair, adds a sense of elegance to the busy day.
- Stock your bar and create a special drink menu. Offer wines, specialty cocktails (especially in pink for the ladies) and mocktails so even the non-drinkers feel special. This is also an excellent time to offer Irish or Bahamian Coffee with dessert, or a fine cognac for the gentleman. And don’t forget the champagne!
FACTS ON ST. VALENTINES DAY
The 14th of February is the burial date and actual commemorative day of St. Valentine, a monk who was executed for performing secret weddings. The Roman army needed more men to fight battles, so they outlawed marriage. St. Valentines married many secret lovers, cured the blind daughter of his jailer and before he was executed left the girl a love note signed “Your Valentine”. And so Valentine’s Day began as an annual expression of undying love and affection. Interestingly, the timing coincides with the pre-Christian celebration of Lupercalia (15 Feb.), and the new Christian church converted the ancient pagan celebration to a Christian festival for St. Valentine.
The infamous Valentine’s heart-shaped box of chocolates was introduced in 1861 by Richard Cadbury, heir to the Cadbury fortune. Today, over 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold in the US alone each year.
Hershey’s Kisses are named after the sound they make during production, when the chocolate is deposited onto the conveyor belt.
Alex Trebek hosts an annual Valentine’s Jeopardy episode, in which one category is always about “Conversation Hearts”, those candy hearts with messages like “I Love You” and “Be Mine”.
Valentine’s is the second biggest day of the year for greeting cards, after Christmas. Teachers get the most cards and children receive the most Valentine’s day goodies, followed by women (wives/mothers), then men (fathers/husbands), grandparents, co-workers, friends and pets. The figure on mistresses is unknown but estimated to be just under the numbers given to wives.
Although large bouquets of showy flowers have become the norm, classic florists prefer the “signature rose” which is a single, perfect red rose with baby’s breath.
In the US, almost half of US consumers gave candy to someone for V-Day, which is almost $1 billion in sales – mostly chocolate. Over 8 billion candy hearts are made and sold annually.
- Valentines Q&A (jamesbeard.org)
- Food Timeline (foodtimeline.org)
- Valentine’s Day Facts (mydearvalentine.com)
- Valentine’s Day Facts: Gifts, History and Love Science (nationalgeographic.org)