Five Ways for Restaurants to Make Valentine’s Day Special in 2021

Valentine’s Day is coming up – one of the busiest holidays of the year for restaurants. According to SlickText’s “2021 Share the Love Survey,” 34 percent of respondents said their biggest Valentine’s Day spend will be at restaurants and 46 percent are prioritizing spending money at local businesses. Even with COVID-19 causing unexpected changes to your usual Valentine's Day plans, there are plenty of creative ways your restaurant can celebrate a day of love with your customers. 

Create a Special Menu

Design a prix fixe or specials menu that’s festive for the holiday. Customers are looking for something to celebrate and be excited for, so making your menu reflect this will help mark the day and add to the specialness. 

Since many customers will be interested in ordering takeout this year, you can add your specialty menu on a landing page or directly on your website. If you’re offering outdoor or limited dining, print a QR code on a table tent that links to your menu for easy access from a smartphone.

In addition to designing a holiday menu, you’ll want to consider what’s on the menu itself. Think about possible wine, cocktail, or dessert pairings that complement your main entrees and speak to the holiday. Maybe you’ll want to offer a specialty food that’s not usually on the menu, or shape some of your menu items to look like a heart. Keep in mind you’ll want to include foods that transport well as takeout.

Another question is how long you want to offer your specials. Not everyone can or wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th, but they may still want to do something special. Why not offer your specials for the weekend or a week? Featuring your menu for longer than just one day could be a great opportunity to reach more customers.

Deals, Deals, Deals

Most restaurants offer some type of deal for Valentine’s Day. Some people will be planning to order from their favorite restaurant for the holiday, but others might be looking for a new restaurant to try. Coming up with a unique deal or offer is likely to resonate with customers that are debating between places to eat.

Some ideas:

  • Percentage discount off the total order
  • Set menu deal for two
  • Purchase of one entree gets a percentage off subsequent entrees
  • Family meal deal
  • Free or discounted delivery on takeout orders
  • Complimentary menu items
  • Raffle on social media for a complimentary meal for two
  • Sampler of your best-selling products for order online that customers can gift
  • Turn dinner into a “package” with discounted appetizers, drinks, and desserts to supplement a main entree order
  • Team up with a local florist or chocolatier to offer a dinner + flowers or dinner + chocolate takeout deal
  • Encourage repeat business by offering an exclusive, future deal for customers who order from you during the holiday. You can make a special “discount card” to add to takeout orders or send as an email after payment.

Get Festive with Your Takeout

Everyone gets excited for themes. Pump up the holiday excitement by being festive with your menu design, decor, and takeout packaging. Takeout bags, boxes, stickers, and labeling are all great opportunities to bring your theme into people’s homes. We all know hearts, red and pink colors, and roses are common on Valentine’s Day, but your theme doesn’t have to include these symbols. Choose any designs or brand-specific themes you like.

Similarly, you can go the traditional route of celebrating couples, or shake it up by celebrating love in any of its forms like friendship, family, or being single. Get creative with your theme by extending it to any specials you’re offering.

Some ideas:

  • Family-sized meals/meal kits/boxes 
  • “Crafting with your kids” holiday themed coloring page or other craft
  • “Roommate special menu for two” 
  • Option to “send a friend a dinner”
  • Dinner, dessert, and drink meal combos so people can treat themself 

Make It Interactive

Help your customers spend intentional time with their loved ones by offering a virtual cooking class from home that has a Valentine’s Day theme. Customers can order the ingredients they need from your restaurant ahead of time, then join the class from their kitchen. 

Another interactive option is a meal kit. Offer a kit that includes tips on setting a festive table and mood. Or one that has instructions on how to add finishing touches to the meal. Any ideas you have will make the meal more fun and engaging for your customers. These can be written instructions you add to the box, or a link to a QR code with a video of your chef giving these tips.

Build Excitement

Make sure potential customers know you’ve got something good cooking’ up by putting flyers in your windows, sandwich boards along the sidewalk, updating your social media channels, or sending emails to your mailing list. Hitting multiple channels, and more than once, is a great way to be top of people’s minds as they make plans (or last-minute decisions!) for the holiday. This year especially, many customers will be looking to social media for your updates so be sure to keep them informed on these channels, and consider offering some form of giveaway. Whatever methods you choose to build excitement, make sure to feature your specialty menu, any discounts you’re offering, gift certificates you have available, or anything else customers will want to know.

Make sure your restaurant stands out this Valentine’s Day with something special everyone can look forward to. Regardless of what you have planned, customers will be happy to celebrate love over some good food.