On Valentine’s Day, restaurants fill up quickly with reservations from couples eager to spend a romantic night together. In fact, before COVID in 2016, both single people and couples spent a total of 35 million dollars on Valentine’s day experiences. While gifts are great, dates night at a sit-down restaurant remain probably the most common and traditional V-Day activity.
Holidays provide restaurants with the opportunity to capitalize on the special moment by offering specials, events, and so much more exclusive to the holiday. Here are five ways to increase sales at your restaurant for Valentine’s Day.
1. Create a Prix Fixe Menu
A prix fixe menu features a fixed multi-course meal that is served to all customers on a specific night, often for holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Prix fixe menus can help increase sales and lighten the load on your kitchen staff. Busy holidays often result in busy and overworked employees, causing stress on your staff and longer wait times for your guests.
A prix fixe menu also gives off an air of elegance. With delectable pre-selected courses, the meal can feel more upscale and thus create an event that feels more special and memorable. . On the flip side, if you run an upscale restaurant, offering a prix fixe menu is a great way to attract customers who usually wouldn’t dine with you.
In order to attract more customers, advertise your prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu on social media, flyers, and more. People want something special and easy this year — providing a pre-selected menu is the perfect solution.
2. Offer a Gift Card with Purchase
One way to ensure that customers make a return visit is to offer a gift card with their purchase. Choose how much you’re willing to give away on gift cards (usually no more than five dollars), and choose how much customers have to spend to receive this gift. To determine this number, look at how much your average customer would spend and increase the price. For example, if your customers typically spend $50 in one visit, offer a gift card for those who spend $75.
For Valentine’s Day, you could also offer buy-one-get-one entrees. When factoring in the amount people spend on drinks and dessert, you likely won’t lose that much money by offering a free entree.
Not only will this encourage current customers to spend more on their date night to meet the threshold, but it will nearly ensure that they return for a second meal.
3. Offer Holiday Meal Kits and Cocktail Kits
With the pandemic still raging on, some people would prefer to have a quiet night at home this year. To ensure that you’re catering to all types of customers, offer take-home meals and/or cocktails kits if possible. Not only will offering these kits increase your revenue and expand your reach, but they’ll also be easier to prepare than in-house meals. All the customer has to do is follow the cooking instructions, and they’ll have a great restaurant-quality meal to split with their loved one.
Depending on your state, you may be able to offer takeout cocktail kits (or singular cocktails) as well. High-margin items like cocktails can be prepped in advance, so they’ll increase revenue without adding a ton of work for the bartenders and other employees.
4. Host a Party or Event
Another great way to increase your revenue this year? Throw a party! When it comes to Valentine’s Day, you can host tons of different types of events, like ladies' night, mixers, couples night, and more! Once you decide to throw a party, you’ll want to start working on your marketing strategy. Think about how you’ll want to advertise on social media and in print, such as with flyers or table tents.
To attract existing customers, post flyers inside of your restaurant that make them aware of the upcoming event. To attract new customers, use outreach methods like social media.
When you throw a party, people often come in groups, introducing your restaurant to their friends or family. People also may spend more money than they usually would, especially if you have fun Valentine’s Day-themed specials for them to try.
However, it’s important to remember that there’s still a pandemic happening outside our windows, so make sure you take precautions when planning to host a party.
5. Upsell with Valentine’s Day Specials
Don’t be afraid to have fun with Valentine’s Day by offering holiday-specific specials like pink alcoholic beverages or heart-shaped desserts. While they don’t have to be that cheesy, it’s fun to get into the spirit! Either way, offering specials that are unique to Valentine's Day is a great way to encourage returning customers. By advertising a menu with new drinks, appetizers, or entree options, past customers may be intrigued and come back to try something new.
You can also use higher-value items or seasonal items, as you won’t have to worry about keeping them in stock long term. While you should definitely create items that are expensive and elegant, don’t forget to utilize high-margin items like soups.
Ideally, your menu should both encapsulate the Valentine’s Day spirit and be appetizing to couples hoping to visit your restaurant for their romantic night out. By creating a delicious menu and fostering a romantic atmosphere, you can help couples create a night they won’t forget.