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10 Valentine's Day Ideas Your Guests Will Love

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Allie Van DuyneAuthor

Valentine's Day is traditionally a massively popular day for dining out — and this year should follow suit.

Valentine's Day can provide a special occasion for couples, families, and friend groups. Try some of these unique approaches to restaurant marketing, menu ideas, and Valentine's Day restaurant specials and promotions to help maximize your piece of restaurant spend.

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Valentine's Day Restaurant Ideas

1. Non-traditional themes for a non-traditional year

This year, it's a good idea to keep a close eye on what guests are turning to for comfort during these strange times, and see if you can provide a dinner experience to match. For example, back in 2017, Found Kitchen and Social House in Evanston, Illinois built their prix-fixe menu around classic romantic comedies. 

Courses included a mini pastrami sandwich on rye and a side salad with “dressing on the side,” inspired by When Harry Met Sally, and a grilled steak al forno with pasta, which Cher makes for Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck, among others, according to The Chicago Tribune.


Another theme that's easily implemented is Take-Home Romance. In 2021, Tucker’s Silk Mill offered a full dinner-kit feast for two, featuring strawberries, short rib ragu, and chocolate cake.

 


2. Class it up: host an online or in-person cooking class

Couples cooking classes are a fantastic way to celebrate love and offer a shared experience — with your brand at the center. Last year, Red Lantern hosted a (socially distant) sushi-making class for couples. The class offered step-by-step sushi instruction along with appetizers and sake pairings. 

 

3. Cater to the kids

Married couples with kids may not feel comfortable calling a babysitter this year, so spread the love and make a celebration event for the whole family. Offer a family meal special, a kid-friendly dessert, or a free kids entree with the purchase of an adult one as your gift to busy parents. 

 

4. Set up an outdoor pop-up

With restricted indoor dining, set up an outdoor pop-up, if the weather allows. As long as it's not raining or snowing, guests are willing to brave frigid temperatures to experience a special meal. The Barn Steakhouse in Evanston, IL, for example, hosted a Valentine’s Day tented ticketed dining experience with limited seating.

Even having a few patio seats open for those willing to dine out while super bundled up to celebrate Valentine's will keep your guests and staff safer.


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5. Celebrate at-home happy hour 

Pre-COVID, happy hours were always a great way to bring customers and highlight special days. Now, many states are allowing take-out alcohol, so the happy hours can continue… they just look a little different. Try offering reduced prices on takeout appetizers and drinks, or even add a specialty Valentine's Day cocktail or two. 

You can also switch it up by creating make-your-own-cocktail kits, and turning the happy hour into a fun activity. It's a great opportunity to share your recipes with your guests, and they'll see just how much effort — and special ingredients — goes into your drinks. 

6. Valentine’s Day gift card program

Gift cards are a great way to generate short-term revenue and promote repeat visits to your restaurant. At Valentine’s Day, they make a great present, as they're a promise for future dates and dinners. 

Promote your gift card availability in the context of a gift. Or think bigger than a one-off sale and promote a long-term program, perhaps with special pricing. 

One idea: Promote a gift card with messaging tied to the (hopeful) end of the pandemic and return to normalcy, perhaps with copy like “I’d Follow You to the End (of the Pandemic).” Then, offer a multi-month gift card buying option. 

You can also do a social media campaign that explains how gift cards are like mini-investments in your business getting through this tough time. 


7. Time your email campaign 

For the best chances of success, make sure your customers know how you might fit into their 2022 Valentine’s Day plans — and make sure your messaging get to them at the right time.  

Email is a great way to do this. Many people are going to make a last-minute decision, so send an email a few days before and one the day before letting your guests know what you have planned for the holiday. 

Remind them to order from your special Valentine’s menu, buy gift cards, or offer a discount code for the 14th only. 


8. Engage your social media following

Holidays are an excellent opportunity to raise awareness for your restaurant’s social media accounts.

Restaurant chain Mimi's Cafe has found a way to increase traffic to their both Facebook page and their restaurant on Valentine's Day. One year, those who declared their love on the Mimi's Facebook page got a free entreé for their efforts.

“Love is in the air at Mimi’s and also online,” said Mimi's CMO Steward Slocum. “We embrace the opportunity to provide a free entrée offer to those who share their love on Mimi’s Facebook page leading into the lovers’ holiday.”


9. Build loyalty love 

Your most loyal customers are always going to want to hear from you, so make sure to reach out to them and let them know what you have in store. 

You can offer double points for guests using your loyalty program on Valentine's Day, or a free dessert if they sign up. This one helps you in two ways: you bring in guests on the holiday, and build your loyalty base and email list for the future. 

10. Run ads on facebook and google

If you have a bit of money to spare, Facebook ads and Google ads can go a long way. On these ads, make sure your restaurant name is front and center along with a clear call-to-action, like "Reserve today!" or "Book now!". 

The Russian Team Room in New York was able to secure the top ad spot "Manhattan Valentine's Day reservations”, and direct customers right to their website. 

When you click on their ad, you're redirected to a prix fixe menu for their Valentine's Day event, as well as a prompt to download the PDF menu or book a table immediately.

Spread the Love

Valentine's Day is sure to be a good day for both restaurants and diners. 

If you haven't gotten started on your Valentine's Day marketing plan yet, download the Restaurant Holiday Handbook for more ideas and check out the Marketing Plan Template below to get some more ideas. 

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.

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Restaurant Marketing Plan

Create a marketing plan that'll drive repeat business with this customizable marketing playbook template and interactive calendar.

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