Americans were estimated to spend a whopping $20.7 billion on V-day in 2019 according to the National Retail Association, ranking at an all-time high. As the second most popular meal in the restaurant industry after Mother’s Day brunch, it’s likely that your recurrent customers and newcomers will seek out your restaurant for a place to spend their romantic evenings.
With potential customers eager for a taste of elegance, it’s a good idea to step up your menu’s game for this special evening. Check out these tips on engineering a menu that is sure to bring in the customers.
Design a Prix Fixe Menu
Designing a prix fixe menu is an effective way to present diners with your top-hitting dishes while familiarizing your staff with a game plan. Guests get to indulge in your restaurant’s most popular fare and those preparing the meal know how to perfect it. Be sure to offer variety in your plates, but not too much. Red meat is an all-time favorite on Valentine’s Day alongside seafood dishes and pasta. Play up your establishment’s luxurious dishes by serving high-end cuts of meat like filet mignon when choosing a protein. Meat, fish, and pasta can all be accentuated with some of the more romantic ingredients like asparagus and avocado to create tasteful side dishes.
Go With a Theme
Heart-shaped pizza, red lobster, and pink creamy vodka sauces are all ways to incorporate the Valentine’s Day theme into your menu, so get creative! You don’t have to stick to the tried-and-true method of romance to make your courses a hit and originality is key. This year, the vegan-friendly restaurant Dirt Candy in the LES is hosting an event called “A Very Vegetable Valentine’s Day Dinner” by serving a seven-course menu packed with ripe vegetables galore. If you have a crowd-pleasing dish or shtick that is close to the hearts of your guests, do it up!
Wine a Little… or Don’t
It doesn’t feel like Valentine’s Day dinner without a tasteful wine pairing to wash it all down. However, there are plenty of flirty cocktails to accompany your main courses that can draw in a crowd. Take a note from The Third Man’s “Aphrodite’s Kiss” cocktail infused with maraschino liqueur for a frilly fuchsia drink. Champagne toasts are always a hit on Valentine’s Day, and serving bubbly drinks with a twist will allow guests to sip on a light beverage that pairs well with their dinner. Also, consider whipping up a few non-alcoholic “mocktails” for diners who are craving a non-hangover inducing sweet beverage.
Do Up the Desserts
A prix fixe menu is nothing without that indulgent last course, so a decadent dessert should be just as important as your mains. The goal is to serve something rich but not overbearing, as diners may feel stuffed by the time your sweet treats arrive at their tables. Red velvet, dark chocolate, and strawberries are all Valentine’s Day staples, and by offering an array of sugary options guests can tailor their dessert choices to their likings. At The Milling Room on the Upper West Side, Valentine’s Day desserts are being taken pretty seriously this year. There, diners can indulge in a selection of five V-day treats including warm chocolate financier and fresh berries with crème.
Appeal to the Takeout Crowd
Galentine’s Day with the squad or school night for the kids are a couple of reasons why potential guests may prefer to stay in on the holiday. Don’t let that take away from the opportunity to promote your restaurant! Appeal to the masses by creating a takeout menu geared specifically towards customers who want to treat themselves to your food from the comfort of their own homes. Choose dishes that will go well in transit and takeout boxes and give diners the ability to pick their courses like they would while dining in-house.
Work Upsells into the Menu
The presence of a prix fixe menu combined with a romantic holiday reputable for its luxury makes upselling on Valentine’s Day highly attainable. While the goal of a prix fixe menu is typically to highlight your restaurant’s favorite items and maintain order in the kitchen, making a few add-ons or specials available to guests creates a sense of lavishness. Working in a handful of high-priced items to accompany the meal or offering sample platters for an additional charge will assure guests that they’re getting the special treatment for their romantic night out.