5 Ways Restaurants Can Prep for Valentine’s Day

This year’s Valentine’s Day spending is projected to hit a record high of $27.4 billion. And $4.3 billion of that is allotted to dining out expenses. Beat out the competition and attract Valentine’s Day diners by planning ahead—these five tips will help you prep for the big day.

Capture Customer Interest Ahead of Time with Social Media 

An effective Valentine’s Day marketing campaign should start a month or more ahead of time, but you can still garnish attention in a short period of time through social media. Share photos of your Valentine’s Day fare and the stunning views from your outdoor patio. Use social media to tease holiday promos and remind your followers to make their reservations before you’re booked. Offer a few new dessert ideas and poll your followers on which they’d like to try. Are you having a live band, fresh roses available for purchase, or anything else that would make their Valentine’s Day dinner? Share it on the gram (and all platforms)!

What if you’re not exactly a “romantic dinner” kind of place? You can still play with Valentine’s Day themes to bring in customers. How about a special Valentine’s Day-themed pub trivia night? Or a yappy hour where patrons can dine with pets and other pet owners, and get a complimentary heart-shaped dog biscuit for their furry valentine? Does your restaurant like to give back to the community? Share on social media that you’re giving a free meal to a homeless person with every $100 spent, or that you’re hosting a Valentine’s Day luncheon for charity. Whatever your restaurant is planning, get the word out on social media. 

Bring in New Customers with Romantic Menus and Promotions 

It may be a no-brainer, but romantic menu packages and promotions are important (and some may say expected) for Valentine’s Day. We included it on our list because it’s crucial for staying in step with the competition. Curating a romantic dining experience could mean offering special prix fix menus—complete with drinks and dessert—or a promotional offer like half-off pricing for certain wine bottles or free champagne for couples. And since guests are 50% more likely to order dessert on Valentine’s Day, think about adding a few holiday-only desserts for the special day. 

But why stop at couples? Get on the “Galentine’s Day” trend by offering brunch and dinner specials for groups of ladies with their gal pals. Skinny margaritas, bottomless mimosas, and wine and chocolate pairings are all popular items for this promotion. And don’t forget those dining in for the night: offer delivery promotions like a free appetizer or dessert with a two-dinner order. And if you’re not already on all the major ordering apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash, now’s the time to sign up.

Increase Sales and Delight Diners with New Dishes

You don’t have to overhaul your entire menu in order to celebrate the holiday, culinary style. Heart-shaped pastas, pizzas, and sushi rolls will surprise and delight your diners. Or you could stick to the classic Valentine’s Day favorites like steak, lobster, oysters, and scallops and give them a fresh interpretation. Remember your vegan clientele too—many restaurants forget to offer vegan specials on their Valentine’s Day menus, so grab their business by adding a nice plant-based dish. And new drinks with a “love” theme are also fun to try out. Give them quirky names like “Kiss-Me Cosmo” and “Be Mine Martini,” and consider adding strawberry and raspberry elements for a pink or red color.

Create the Right Dining Atmosphere to Attract Diners

Ambiance is everything when it comes to a romantic dinner. According to the National Restaurant Association, 21% of Valentine’s Day diners choose a restaurant based on its romantic atmosphere. Get your restaurant ready for love with the right music, lighting, and décor.

Select a mood-based music playlist that’s just right for the occasion, and for the atmosphere. If you’re planning on catering to mostly couples, soft jazz and acoustic music provides a nice background for quiet conversations and love looks across the table. But, if your dining crowd typically consists of young singles, you can be a bit less conservative with the type and volume of your music. 

Maybe your restaurant is already set with ambient lighting, which mimics candlelight and creates a warm, intimate setting. But what about your outdoor patio? Think about adding some fun colored lanterns (pink and red, naturally) or faerie lights for the occasion—it’s not a big change, but it will go a long way with customers. 

Stay Ahead of the Competition with Expanded Services 

You’re not just providing a romantic dinner; you’re creating an entire experience. Think about expanding your services to offer a little extra love for Valentine’s Day. For example, consider partnering with local businesses to create a package deal for patrons. Local hotels, spas, florists, and jewelry shops are great places to start. 

Many restaurants are offering proposal packages to patrons who want to pop the big question during dinner. And it’s no wonder—with one study revealing that 36% of people choose Valentine’s Day to propose to their significant other. Your proposal packages may include champagne, roses, a cake with special “marry me” messaging, limousine, horse and carriage—the possibilities are endless. 

Make Their Valentine’s Day Memorable with Raydiant

Diners don’t just want good food and good service—they want an experience. And not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day. Raydiant is more than digital signage—it features several tools that connect customers with your brand, create a pleasant dining ambience, and promote new dishes and services. Our partnership with brands like Soundtrack Your Brand and PosterMyWall allows you to create and schedule music playlists by mood or genre and create high-res digital posters for display.  

Our digital signage system includes plug-and-play hardware that installs in seconds (just plug into your TV’s HDMI port). Once installed, setup is simple—just follow the on-screen prompts and you’re ready to use Raydiant’s large library of apps. The system is cloud-based, meaning you can create and schedule content for your restaurant displays from any internet-connected device—you don’t have to be at the restaurant to do it. And because Raydiant’s system is built for commercial use, you can expect an average uptime of 99.95% (meaning it won’t freeze or crash even after hours of continuous use).