Valentine’s Day Restaurant Marketing Ideas

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Ahh Valentine’s Day – the holiday of love. Some people, well, love it and some hate it. Still, it’s a popular day for dining out for many people, whether on a date or celebrating anti-Valentine’s Day with friends. You should be thinking about your restaurant’s plan for marketing your holiday offerings to ensure you have a full house of diners.

Today, we’re giving you some Valentine’s Day marketing ideas to think about ahead of February 14th.

Let’s Discuss the History

We all know Valentine’s Day is about love, hearts, Cupid, and those cute little cards you used to get in elementary school. And you may know something about the history of the holiday, which is steeped in hearsay, traditions, and legend. The origins aren’t clearly set in stone, but historians believe it began in pre-Roman times. And no, it wasn’t about romance; in fact, there was a lot of blood and gore.

Lupercalia, a traditional Roman festival, took place in Rome in February with the purpose of evil spirit cleansing. There were animal sacrifices and other rituals that went along with it. Years later, St. Valentine, a Christian martyr, was executed by emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed. I guess you could say he died in the name of love…

Today, the likes of Hallmark and American Greetings, along with other candy and gift stores everywhere, have capitalized on the holiday, turning it into a celebration of love. And people have been persuaded to use February 14th as a proclamation of their love; people in the US spend around 19 billion dollars on the holiday. Although some couples might choose to cook at home on Valentine’s Day, a lot of people will be heading to restaurants for a special night out.

Below are some ideas to help you spice up your Valentine’s Day offerings at your restaurant.

Incorporate Heart-Shaped Menu Items and Colorful Influences

It’s not everyday you see a heart shaped pizza or dessert, but you do on February 14th. If you’re creating a special menu for Valentine’s Day, think of how you can incorporate the heart shape into your presentation. It’s easy to do and can be achieved with virtually any menu item. A simple cookie cutter can turn a bed of rice into a heart. If you make homemade pasta, you can craft it into the shape. For dessert, create heart-shaped cookie ice cream sandwiches (or let your guests build their own).

Aside from heart-shaped items, create a menu that is unique and colorful. Red, pink, and white are all colors associated with the holiday. Think about how you can get creative with menu items or go extreme and ONLY have food made with those colors. I mean, who doesn’t love a good penne vodka sauce and red velvet cake for dessert?

pasta dish with tomato sauce and tomatoes

Whatever you’re planning, it’s essential to get your Valentine’s Day menu online early. Diners will be weighing their restaurant options and making reservations ahead of time. You don’t want to be overlooked because you’re not offering a special meal or deal for the holiday.

With SinglePlatform, you can create a specific holiday menu to post ahead of February 14th. This way, guests will know that you’re serving a different menu with unique items. This is especially important if your usual a la carte menu won’t be available. You should set expectations so diners know they can only choose from the Valentine’s Day menu for the night.

If you’re doing a set pre-fixe option, be clear about the pricing and all inclusions as well. Plus, as soon as the holiday is over, you can remove the menu to eliminate confusion. To learn more, contact us.

Give Them Something Extra

tray of champagne glasses being handed out

As we’ve said before, the dining experience isn’t just about the meal, it’s about the entire event. Make the visit to your restaurant memorable for every guest by doing something unique. Last year, I dined at Trademark Taste & Grind in New York City for Valentine’s Day. I already knew they had a pre fixe menu, which I was impressed with, but they also had a craft cocktail experience that caught my eye.

cocktail glass with craft cocktail

Of course, there are tons of restaurants in New York City to choose from, but this one added a little something extra, which is why I chose it. And the added touches definitely made the date memorable!

Upon arrival, guests were given a list of spirits and add-ins and asked to design their own cocktail. You could choose something fruity, floral, or spicy, and the bartender would make the drink specially for you.

Plus, they allowed all guests to head over to their sister restaurant, Refinery Rooftop, afterwards for a complimentary champagne toast. With the views of the Manhattan skyline and the impressive decor, it definitely gave the night a special touch.

You can incorporate craft cocktail making into your event, or choose something different that will make guests say wow. A complimentary dessert, a special parting gift upon exit, or a take-home version of the menu with recipes will add an extra element of surprise. Think of ways you can offer your guests something extra on February 14th that will inspire them to come back and dine with you for other occasions.

Ask for Music Requests

vinyl record music playing on record player

There are plenty of sappy love songs out there to make a very long Valentine’s Day playlist for your restaurant. You can, of course, choose the music yourself, but you may also want to get your guests involved. If you’re looking to make things interesting, ask for every guest’s song request when they arrive (or even add a field to your reservation form to compile a list ahead of time).

Load your playlist with all of your diners’ favorites and play the songs throughout the night, or opt to hire a local pianist or live band to cover the songs. You’re sure to get people excited when they hear the song they chose streaming through the dining room; you may even bring back a memory or two for couples enjoying the night at your restaurant.

To take it to the next level, hand out pamphlets with the complete playlist as diners exit. If they heard some new songs they liked throughout the night, guests can always download them later.

Give the Homebodies a Reason to Celebrate

Not everyone likes to go to crowded restaurants to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Some people opt to stay home and cook or order in. Don’t you want to cater to this population as well? If you already have an online ordering system in place, it’s easy! Update your online offerings with any Valentine’s Day specials you have for take-out so customers can take advantage of holiday-specific items. Throw in a free appetizer or dessert to each delivery order to make the experience even better. You can even put the receipt in a restaurant-themed Valentine to keep with the sentiment of the holiday. Attention to detail helps make your restaurant more memorable.

Ahead of February 14th, make sure you’re well-equipped to handle delivery orders as well as a full house in your dining room. Nothing puts a damper on a Valentine’s Day celebration like the late delivery of cold food.

Send an email or text message ahead of time that promotes your Valentine’s Day delivery option. You can get creative with it and come up with a clever communication like “Don’t think dining out is romantic? We get it. Stay in & order your Valentine’s Day dinner from The City Bistro. Oh, and get 10% off your order on February 14th. Now that’s sweet.” The more prepared you are to handle requests, the more successful you’ll be.

Host An Anti-Valentine’s Day Party

friends laughing and drinking during restaurant gathering

If you’re looking to go rogue this holiday, go all out. Instead of the typical romantic dinner, offer up an Anti-Valentine’s Day Party. Plenty of single people will be looking for places to go to hang out with friends and your restaurant could be the hot spot. Make sure you’re marketing your event ahead of time by posting on social media, updating your website, and sending out emails.

If you’re looking to put a funny spin on things, decorate your restaurant in black (it is opposite day afterall). Create a menu with witty anti-love titles, like the Loner’s Lobster Bisque and Pizza Party for One. Craft cocktails with the same sentiments are sure to go over big (Love Potion Number NO, for example).

Ditch the romantic love songs for a more upbeat, fun playlist for your guests to enjoy. Riffing off of the popular conversation hearts, you can even put out humorous conversation cards to get people talking to each other (you never know, your anti-Valentine party may spark a new friendship or relationship). Creating an inviting and entertaining atmosphere can help people who otherwise loathe the holiday to think of it as a way to have some fun.

In Closing

couple cheers with red wine at dinner table

February 14th commemorates love, and is a popular day to dine out for couples, and singles, all around the country. If you want to do something different than your typical Thursday night in the dining room, there are plenty of ways to include special touches for your guests. From unique menu items to decorations and setting the tone, any little element of surprise can help make diners feel appreciated this Valentine’s Day. Doing anything special at your restaurant for the holiday? Tell us below!

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