Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, so one of the biggest dining days of the week collided with one of the biggest dining days of the year. A 2013 Open Table survey found that 51 percent of respondents intended to dine out on Valentine’s Day; and 42 percent of respondents to a survey by the National Restaurant Association said they would choose their or their companion’s favorite restaurant over a “romantic destination.” That’s great news for local cafes that have a loyal clientele.
If you didn’t get the Valentine’s Day rush that you were hoping for this year, you’ll need a better strategy for next time the holiday rolls around. Here are six ideas that your patrons will love:
- Hopelessly Devoted to You: Small cafes can set themselves apart from the hubbub of Valentine’s Day by promising a more intimate environment. Even if you’re not typically a “white table cloth venue,” make Valentine’s Day the evening you kick it up a notch. Hey, even White Castle transforms itself into the Love Castle, with white tablecloths and tableside service! See if a local music studio wants to send some students to serenade your diners; light candles; add fresh flowers; offer heart-shaped desserts and champagne. Offer a special menu featuring “love foods.”
- Can’t Buy Me Love: Don’t forget to promote your special offerings on your social media channels. Encourage your followers to share the love by liking and sharing your promotional post for a special offering, like a free chocolate dessert. Or, ask them to submit their own funny Valentine’s Day restaurant fails and award the winner a free dinner.
- All the Single Ladies: Host an anti-Valentine’s day promotion. The local café can be a welcoming place for a group of “Galentines” to spend their evening, with themed drink and app specials. When most places are full of tables a deux, let your clientele know that you welcome big groups that evening.
- Take Me Home Tonight: Many couples want to avoid the craziness of Valentine’s Day and relax at their own home. Offer a multi-course takeout meal special, with some romantic touches, like a rose with each order.
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours: If your crowd is typically the lunchtime gang, make sure to let them know that you’ll have special hours and a special menu on Valentine’s Day to encourage them to come by. If you use an mPOS like Instore, use the message area on your receipts to deliver the message.
Many customers choose to avoid dining out on Valentine’s Day, when crowds and limited menus threaten to mar the dining experience. Neighborhood restaurants and cafes can take advantage of their friendly, local service to give diners a night they’ll remember – for all the right reasons!
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