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17. januar 2023, 5 min read

A heart-shaped holiday: 5 Valentine’s Day ideas for restaurants

Author: Birgitte Brøndum
Red neon Valentine's heart on wall
Red neon Valentine's heart on wall

Valentine’s Day is a popular day to dine out. This romantic holiday used to be an American phenomenon, but now it’s growing in Europe. Plenty of guests are just waiting for you to offer Valentine’s Day specials and events, so they can invite their special someone out for dinner, luxurious brunch or another culinary love adventure.

Valentine’s Day specials at your restaurant can be everything heart-shaped, but they don’t have to be. While big heart balloons are fun, many couples and friends are simply looking for a nice way to celebrate their love. And your restaurant might just be the place they set their hearts and appetites on.

See this February holiday as an opportunity to create attractive events that will have love bugs and bookings flying your way in no time!

Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

The origin of the name Valentine is commonly attributed to a Roman saint, but who exactly this saint was is still disputed. In the Roman register of Martyrs, there are two saints named Valentine, and both were celebrated on February 14. One of them was a Roman priest, and the other was a bishop of Terni. Both of these became martyrs at about the same time. Nevertheless, the legends surrounding them are vague and not entirely believable. Moreover, nothing in these legends involved anything that has to do with romance or loving couples.

Most sources conclude that Valentine’s Day didn’t become associated with romantic love until after the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the poem The Parliament of Fowles. The poem was written somewhere between 1381-1382. In the poem, Chaucer wrote about birds that were looking for a mate on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Source: SNL

Couple celebrating Valentine's Day at a restaurant

Valentine’s Day in numbers

According to a global Ipsos survey from 2022, 55% of adults were expecting to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Of these, 35% answered that they planned to celebrate by enjoying a night out at a restaurant, watching something in the cinema or theatre, or going to a concert.

Additionally, when we fed the search term Valentine’s Day to the keyword tool Ahrefs, it showed us that a lot of people are searching for something to do and for gifts to give on February 14.

Popular searches related to Valentine’s Day (average monthly searches globally):

So why do these numbers matter to you? They do because they indicate that your restaurant could become one of the “things to do for Valentine’s Day” or even a “Valentine’s Gift”. What better gift than delicious food enjoyed in the company of your favourite person?

5 ideas for your restaurant’s Valentine’s events

Couple on a Valentine's date at a restaurant

All kinds of restaurant events are a growing trend. Restaurant guests have built up a large appetite for dining experiences that include something more than simply a great meal. That means the timing is just right for offering Valentine’s Day events. And they don’t have to be the everything is heart-shaped kind. Make your own unique events that provide a perfect setting for celebrating love and its beautifully diverse nature.

Below are some ideas to get you started!

Set menus with Valentine’s theme

If you compose a set menu for Valentine’s Day you’re likely to attract food-loving couples who want to enjoy each other while experiencing new flavours. You can take this kind of menu in many directions, depending on your concept and kitchen type. One way is to include ingredients that are said to be aphrodisiacs. There’s very little scientific evidence indicating that most of these do in fact work, but who knows, right? The storytelling is what counts here, as long as you don’t promise miracles.

Some (maybe) aphrodisiac foods for your Valentine’s Day menu:

High tea for two

Small, pretty cakes, heart-shaped pralines, classy sandwiches, high-quality teas and bubbles! All served on beautiful porcelain or why not on rustic-style tableware to create an edgy contrast? This kind of Valentine’s Day special is bound to attract everyone from love birds to good friends, and grandparents who just really love tea, cake and sparkling wine.

High-tea with small cakes and scones served on a restaurant table

Valentine’s Day wine-tasting

Wine tastings are as old as wine. They’re even older than the poem that turned Valentine’s Day romantic. Wine-tasting events are the perfect opportunity to attract wine-loving Valentine’s couples. Combine the wine tasting with set food menus, and give your guests a chance to discover the culinary love that comes out of your kitchen. Focus on a certain kind of grapes, a region, a country, champagnes or a specific winery.

Valentine’s Day Brunch

Brunch is always a popular meal to enjoy out, and it’s guaranteed to be a hit way to start a Valentine’s Day celebration. To make your Valentine’s Day brunch extra special and luxurious you can include a small chocolate and fruit fondue, or a classic brunch cocktail like a mimosa, bellini, or bloody mary. You could even offer two or more versions of your brunch menu, such as a Bubbly Valentine’s Brunch with a glass of sparkling wine and a vegetarian option with a selection of the season’s best vegetables, crunchy sourdough bread and French cheeses.

Take (my heart) away

Nobody wants to do the dishes while celebrating love! Takeaway Valentine’s Day menus will attract all the couples who want to enjoy each other at home without having to clean up a messy kitchen. Did your restaurant offer a takeaway menu for New Year’s? Why not create a similar menu and add some fun Valentine’s details such as a heart-shaped dessert or pretty cards with love poems or a handwritten message from your kitchen to the couples? Sustainability is a rising priority among many restaurant guests, so don’t forget to use recyclable or biodegradable takeaway containers for your Valentine’s Day takeaway!

Valentine’s Day 2023 falls on a Tuesday, but there’s a lot to win by extending your restaurant’s events and campaigns to include the entire week and maybe even the weekend before February 14. By doing that you give as many couples as possible a chance to celebrate love whenever it suits them. A Valentine’s week is also a perfect opportunity to create social media content that will help you attract new guests and remind your regulars why they love you!