HOW TO CREATE A VALENTINES DAY DINING EXPERIENCE

Valentine’s Day (February 14) is one of the most important events on the hospitality calendar – and if you aren’t rolling out a new menu or introducing a fresh drinks selection for the occasion, you could be missing a trick.

According to WebstaurantStore, Valentine’s Day is so popular in foodservice, in fact, that it directly follows the Mother’s Day brunch when it comes to pulling in diners. In short, it’s a great opportunity to treat your customers to a themed evening or special food selection.

We doubt there’s a better time than the day of love to show your customers you care. Here’s some inspiration for getting people out of their warm and cosy homes and into your venue…

PLAN A SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY MENU

Do you have some new recipes up your sleeve? Valentine’s Day could be the perfect time to unleash them on the public.

Create a winning food offering with all your customers’ romantic favourites. We’re talking indulgent sharing platters, premium fare like oysters and Champagne, or even heart-shaped finger food for those stopping by for a quick bite before heading to the theatre or cinema.

Look to Pinterest for some photo-worthy ideas or see what the competition is doing. It isn’t about copying, though, but taking inspiration from similar businesses and making your menu your own.

The BBC has put together a list packed with the top 10 dishes your diners want to eat on Valentine’s Day, with beef wellington and sea bass featuring in the round-up. See what else made the cut by heading here.

Consider how you might tweak your drinks offering on February 14, too. Can you create a special, Valentine’s themed cocktail? Or you could go one better and host your very own couples’ cocktail masterclass, like this venue.

CREATE A ROMANTIC AMBIENCE

These days, customers want much more than an enticing meal; they long to be wowed by everything from the service to the food selection – and especially the ambience. Consider how you might create a relaxing, romantic atmosphere for your diners. Dim the lights, create a special playlist and think about adding tealights or fresh blooms to the tables. Don’t forget to encourage online bookings for your themed Valentine’s night, though – it could be popular!

PLAN!

The secret to a great themed night is mostly in the planning, so make sure you take the time to get your heads together as a team and throw some ideas around.

Valentine’s Day can be busy for your restaurant, café or bar, so consider how you might lighten the load for your staff to ensure a smoother evening both front of house and in the kitchen.

What about a set menu, for example? Or how about preparing a meal that can be cooked in one pot? You could whip up a meat-filled one and a veggie version, for a more casual, street food-style affair. People will love tucking into wintery comfort food and it’ll mean much less prep for your chefs. Take a look at this article on one pot cooking for some inspiration.

Don’t forget to keep vegans happy, too. Remember: a lot of people may have extended their Veganuary stint well into February, so why not come up with some plant-friendly dishes everyone will love

CATER TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

While it’s tempting to try something ‘out there’ for Valentine’s Day, don’t veer too far away from what your loyal customers have come to expect. If, for example, yours is a Mediterranean-style restaurant, you’ll only confuse diners if you suddenly announce a US-themed Valentine’s event, complete with huge burgers, skin-on fries and mustard laced hot dogs. .

Not sure where to begin? We put together a convenient guide which features a host of insights regarding diners’ eating out preferences – and you can view it here. It’s designed to help you cater to customers new and old and it features all kinds of tips on the type of cuisine your diners are enjoying, when they like eating out and how they tend to select a restaurant or bar to visit.

The link above takes you to our final guide in what was an enlightening five-part series. Pulling together all the facts we gleaned as a result of a survey we carried out, it’s jam-packed with advice for caterers.

Will you be trying something new for Valentine’s Day? We hope this article provides more than a pinch of inspiration.

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