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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means couples everywhere are on the hunt for romantic restaurants. You can brighten a gray February day — and attract more reservations — by going all out for Valentine’s Day dinner.

Whether you’re embracing V-Day clichés or keeping it chic, leaning into love can benefit your bottom line. Americans spent $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2022, with a significant share of the money going toward food. It’s a lucrative day for takeout, too; February 14 is one of the top delivery days on Grubhub.

5 tips to make Your Restaurant the Go-To Valentine’s Day Spot

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. Make sure you’re prepared for the rush of diners by getting your restaurant ready in advance; this goes for inventory, supplies and staff.

Remember that couples aren’t the only ones who like to dine out on February 14 — it’s also important to find ways to welcome singles and friends. You could host a Galentine’s Day dinner on February 13, offer a fun friend-date menu on Valentine’s Day or create a separate section for non-couples. No matter how you celebrate singles, it creates a great opportunity for a targeted marketing campaign.

1. Create a Valentine’s Day menu

A special Valentine’s Day menu is an easy way to attract new customers and give your loyal diners the chance to try something new. You don’t need to change your entire menu for a single night; consider adding one or two new dishes, or ask your chef to design a prix fixe menu using existing appetizers, entrées and desserts. The multi-course meal suits the celebratory vibe and encourages customers to order more.

Changing the presentation can also spice up your usual menu. Offer a heart-shaped pizza for one day only, or add edible flowers to one of your top-selling desserts. To highlight the new items, print special menu cards with love-themed names and enticing menu descriptions.

It’s important to offer options for a variety of price points. Revisit your menu pricing to make sure they’re delectable. Some couples are happy to splurge for a romantic night out, but many diners appreciate a good deal. As you set prices, make sure they offer an acceptable profit margin.

2. Mix mesmerizing cocktails

For many diners, Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without a delicious cocktail. Get into the spirit of the holiday with a few specialty drinks. It’s easier than adding new meals to the menu, and your customers will love having something tasty to toast with.

Romantic cocktail ideas include:

  • Raspberry martini
  • Pomegranate or strawberry mimosas
  • Bourbon blackberry smash
  • Red wine sangria
  • Rosé French 75
  • Sex on the beach
  • Cranberry Moscow mule
  • Blood-orange mojito

Include your delivery customers in the fun by adding your holiday cocktails to your to-go menu. Adding alcohol to your delivery menu can boost the average order by $14 to $15.

3. Send romance home with delivery

When Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the week, many couples opt to spend a relaxing night in. They order a delicious meal and enjoy a romantic evening in the comfort of their homes. As the big day approaches, ensure your kitchen is ready for an influx of delivery orders as well as in-house reservations. You can also promote to-go options on social media to remind diners they don’t need to go out to celebrate.

Make sure your delivery and takeout orders feel just as indulgent as celebrating Valentine’s Day in a restaurant by packing meals correctly. When the food arrives, it should be beautiful and ready to serve. Before the holiday, refresh your delivery photos on Grubhub Marketplace to encourage couples and singles to choose your restaurant over competitors.

4. Share the love with promotions

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to shake up your restaurant’s marketing efforts with promotions — customers are getting over the sticker shock of the winter holidays, but they’re still in the market for a good deal. Give them extra incentives to choose you for their holiday dinner with specials such as:

  • Percentage off a meal for two
  • Free dessert or appetizer with the purchase of two entrées
  • Discounted prix fixe menu
  • $10 off a bill of $100

You can also encourage customers to book a date night with experience-based promotions. Get your sommelier to host a wine tasting before dinner, or create a tasting menu for two. If you have the capacity, you can also skip a traditional meal in favor of a hands-on cooking class.

Boost your profits by catering to your customers who aren’t coupled up. On Galentine’s Day (February 13th), encourage friend groups to come in for a boozy brunch, a cocktail-mixing class or a dessert-tasting menu. Some of your diners may even come in on both days.

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or both, extend the experience to your delivery customers. With Grubhub’s promotions and loyalty tools, it’s easy to offer holiday deals to people who prefer to dine at home.

5. Set the mood

A romantic dinner is all about the atmosphere. Before you open the restaurant, set the mood. Everyone looks gorgeous by candlelight; dim the overhead lights and set a few flickering candles on every table. Battery-operated models will glow all night without the need to re-light, and you can reuse them for other events. You can even pull your white Christmas lights out of storage to add to the vibe and give servers plenty of visibility.

Soften the ambiance even further by tucking flowers into every available nook. Play soft music in the background, or take the event to the next level with a live pianist or acoustic guitar player. The music should be audible but not so loud that it disrupts conversation.

About 6 weeks before Valentine’s Day, test your decor. Create a sample place setting and top the table with two of your specialty cocktails or glasses of champagne. A trial run helps your team prepare, but it also creates the ideal conditions for a promotional photo shoot. Snap some beautiful images to use on your social media and email marketing promotions leading up to the holiday. The visual reminder will attract guests who resonate with your unique vibe.

Spread the word

Diners know reservations are essential for February 14, so it’s important to start marketing your Valentine’s Day offerings well in advance. Use your photos to create a series of promotional posts you can publish no later than 4 weeks before the holiday. With each one, encourage people to make reservations — when you know how many people to expect, you can stock the kitchen and schedule staff accordingly.

Some ways to promote your event include:

  • Social media: Create social media posts advertising the menu and V-Day deals.
  • Blog post: Write about your Valentine’s Day plans on your website.
  • Website updates: Make a special website banner to attract guests’ attention, and make sure to update your calendar. Include a link to your Grubhub Direct ordering website to increase commission-free orders.
  • Email: Send a message to your email list advertising the event and recommending diners make reservations.
  • Print: Design fliers and posters and put them up on community bulletin boards around town. Include your URL for quick reference.

Your restaurant and Grubhub are a match made in heaven

Valentine’s Day is a busy time for the restaurant industry. By preparing your location and team before the holiday, you can capitalize on the increased demand and ensure the evening runs smoothly. Make sure your online ordering system and delivery menu are ready for the rush by signing up for Grubhub Marketplace today.