Is Valentine’s Day a Friend or Foe?

A recent Zagat Valentine’s Day Survey found 43% of couples are planning on going out to dinner to celebrate, with an average expected bill of $142.11. Those are big figures. What’s bigger you ask? I’ll tell you; the number of blog posts and articles encouraging people to stay home for Valentine’s Day. So I ask, Valentine’s Day: friend or foe?

It’s a double-edge sword to be sure. That kind of business has to be a bright spot in the post-holiday spending hiatus most people seem to take. Then again, have you ever worked in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day?

Imagine half of the people in the city you live in going to dinner on one night. Now imagine that all of those people are going to want to have drinks, appetizers, savor their meals, and top it off with a decadent dessert. Instead of encouraging your staff to turn those tables, you’re balancing the fine line of giving each couple a great Valentine’s Day dining experience while being mindful of reservation times and waiting patrons.

As a former waitress, I know how daunting Valentine’s Day can be. The tips from that night are almost worth the hassle. Trying to give each couple a romantic, intimate night out while also being attentive and giving them great service…decidedly not worth that hassle. Now do it all over again, 20 more times (with a smile, of course).

With all that said, when the night is over it’s a great feeling. You’ve given people a special night that they will remember and share with their friends and family. You experienced firsthand the magic that happens behind the scenes in an efficient kitchen. You can cross it off your list, “I survived the Valentine’s Day rush!”

So you tell me, is all this hype about avoiding crowds and restaurants true for you? Or do you live for the nights when the stream of people filing into your restaurant seems non-stop? Better yet, if you wrote a Valentine’s Day survival guide, what tips would you give to fellow restaurant owners and employees?

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