Article contributed by Mark Moeller, The Recipe of Success
Last year the National Retail Federation predicted that Americans would spend nearly $20 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day.
From that total, American lovebirds spent nearly $4.5 billion on an evening out around Valentine’s Day, giving restaurant owners yet another opportunity to increase traffic to their restaurant and to offer something special to their guests.
There are plenty of ways to infuse love to any menu, whether you’re a coffee bar, casual family restaurant or a fine dining establishment.
- Create a special Aphrodisiac-inspired menu and have some fun creating clever copywriting on your menu and website. Foods associated with love and romance: asparagus, basil, garlic and oysters are all good contenders, and chocolate is perhaps the best known aphrodisiac and plays a prominent role in Valentine’s Day traditions.
- Even if you haven’t offered a prix-fixe menu in the past, create one for this special occasion and include a glass of wine, champagne or dessert with the meal.
- Set the mood. Whether it is using red napkins, pink candles, placing rose petals on the table or playing romantic songs, creating the “right” atmosphere is one way to get or keep guests in the mood.
- To increase traffic, send out a newsletter or create an email blast to promote either the evening or create a longer celebration. Don’t forget to share details with local businesses and remember, if you work with certain suppliers (flowers, photographers, or jewelry stores) don’t forget to invite them for a special post-Valentine’s Day celebration. After all, being Cupid’s assistant can make you exhausted.
How do you create that perfect, romantic menu? There are many key items to keep in mind, your menu should:
- Reflect your concept. Utilize ingredients that will be found traditionally in your cuisine. Ingredients that wouldn’t normally be found in your restaurant will provide a disconnect and cause confusion amongst your guests.
- Play to your Chef’s strengths. A great Chef has the skills to go outside their comfort zone and create specials that will wow a guest for a night or so. You can risk a miss on a Friday night, you can’t on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day can set your table for the remainder of the year. The right experience encourages couples to return and relive their day of love.
- Pair correctly. Sumptuous menus need to be enhanced by the right wine or champagne. Servers need to be well trained, prepared and know how to read their guests. Prix fixe menus are limited in offerings, so the pairing is simpler. If you need help, reach out to your distributors for help, after all they are (or should be) the experts.
- Provide value. All too often restaurants try and capitalize on the night by pricing their menu in a manner that focuses on the revenue for the day instead of for the long term. Remember, if your guests feel taken advantage of, they will not return. Price your menu with the thought that you truly want to see your guests return, often.
- Be memorable. This is a special night; your guests are celebrating love. They are looking for a beautiful evening, one where they don’t have to think. One that leaves them wanting more …of everything.
Proper planning will allow you to deliver that special night, the one that all couples are looking for. They will remember that the night was special, they might not know why it was and that’s okay. The important thought is they will want to return because they had an incredible experience.
The Recipe Of Success is a nationally recognized consulting firm that has held the “secret ingredient” to creating some of the best restaurants, fast casual dining venues, cafes, bars, bakeries and multifaceted catering and events businesses. Embracing a hands-on consultancy philosophy and an entrepreneurial spirt, The Recipe of Success provides profitable and executable solutions to private equity, owners and operators of restaurant companies. The boutique firm specializes in both launching new restaurant startups along with turnarounds for struggling or financially distressed operations by bringing fresh ideas to the table, including: concept development, food and beverage strategies, menu development, real estate brokerage, restaurant design and construction, operational procedures, marketing and staff training to drive guest frequency and maximize revenue. Since 2000, The Recipe of Success has legacy of success “menu” of over 150 major clients.