12 Valentine’s Day Restaurant Ideas To Try in 2024
November 29, 2023
Get inspired with these restaurant promotion ideas and leverage three easy marketing channels to drive revenue this Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. In fact, it’s the second most popular holiday to dine out, right behind Mother’s Day, meaning your restaurant has the opportunity to fill up the books during that post-holiday season lull.
Restaurants can drive profits by promoting specials like prix fixe dinner menus, meal kits for two, or heart-shaped treats. We rounded up a few quick and easy restaurant promotion ideas for Valentine’s Day as well as tips on how to promote your offerings.
Valentine’s Day Promotion Ideas
There’s a whole host of options when it comes to Valentine’s Day promotions. Whether you’re hosting a ticketed event, selling special menu items through online ordering, taking pre-orders for meal kits, or trying to book reservations, here are twelve ideas to consider.
Idea #1: Full Valentine’s Dinner Package
While many guests are looking to book a reservation and dine at their favorite restaurant, there are other additional ways to capitalize on the holiday. Seamore’s created a Valentine’s Day to-go box with a twist on traditional surf and turf. The three-course meal included shrimp cocktail and kale salad as appetizers and filet mignon and lobster orzo as entrées. If you have built enough credibility with your diners, they will trust you to curate and deliver a high-caliber holiday meal.
Idea #2: Romantic Signature Cocktail Package
Even for those who want to cook at home, restaurants can still reach these diners with promotions that supplement a home-cooked meal. For example, Gramercy Tavern sold a four-pack of bottled Valentine’s Day cocktails: two chocolate martinis, two pink gin martinis. This allows amateur chefs to focus their attention on cooking their meal but pair it with a restaurant-worthy cocktail.
Idea #3: Valentine’s Day Dessert Package
Valentine’s Day dessert packages play a similar role to cocktail packages. It’s hard enough to cook a special dinner for their loved one; rather than also making dessert — or worse, not even doing dessert — they can order a special dessert from restaurants. Cookie packages like the one above from Little Tart Bakeshop, or these cookie grams from Firehook Bakery, are great examples.
Idea #4: Valentine’s Keepsake Package
This example from Dante shows that restaurant promotions aren’t limited to food and drink. In addition to two bottled cocktails, the New York cafe included a silver-plated cocktail tray, two gold-rimmed martini glasses, a bar spoon, and a candle in its “Ultimate Valentine’s Gift Box.”
Idea #5: Interactive Meal Kit + Cooking Class
Meal kits are a great way to bring the restaurant experience to loyal guest’s kitchens. Restaurant meal kits have higher-quality ingredients and recipes than mass-produced meal kits. To make their promotion extra special, La Spiga Osteria invited all meal kit purchasers to join the chef/owners on a video call where they demonstrated how to cook the dish. The couple also discussed their personal love story and the restaurant’s founding, adding a dash of Valentine’s Day romance to the promotion.
Idea #6: Kid-Friendly Dinner Package
Balance Restaurant developed a “Family Valentine’s Day Meal” for couples who want to include their kids. The adult meal included pear salad, scallops, steak, lobster, crab, and panna cotta for two, while the kids meal included mac and cheese, fruit, housemade chips, and cookies. Allowing parents to cater Valentine’s Day in one click, and not feel like they’re sacrificing quality, is a tremendous value add from restaurants.
Idea #7: Heart-Shaped Menu Items
An easy way to turn a meal into a “Valentine’s Day Special” is to make it heart-shaped. It also lends itself to eye-catching marketing assets, as seen with the heart-shaped pizzas that The Raleigh Times promoted on its website and social media.
Idea #8: Limited-Time Menu Items
Limited-time items are a great way for restaurants to market Valentine’s Day to existing customers. It puts a new twist on an experience they know and trust — an important consideration for special meals — and allows them to feel like they’re having “the same thing but different.” If you offer direct online ordering, you already have a robust list of customer emails to reach when you market the promotion. That’s the best way to re-engage diners with this type of offer, but you can and should also use social media, as Lost Larson did with their Bûche D’Amour Valentine’s Special.
Idea #9: Annual Champagne Dinner
Cork Wine Bar in Washington, D.C., celebrates Valentine’s Day with an annual Champagne Dinner, where it partners with local importers to pair its bar menu with a selection of rare champagnes. In addition to being a great event idea, this approach stands out because of how it’s become a tradition. When marketing materials mention that an event is “the 10th annual,” it catches diners’ eyes and suggests the event is popular, which makes them more likely to attend. Diners who enjoy the event are also likely to return, creating a built-in audience and reducing the pressure on marketing to fill the venue.
Idea #10: Romantic Decor/Design Course
If your restaurant is highly regarded for ambiance and decor, you can provide more than food and drink for Valentine’s Day. You can also help people or couples learn how to set a romantic mood. This approach worked especially well for Il Florista, a New York City restaurant that doubles as a floral boutique, which hosted a Floral Design Course on Valentine’s Day. Does your restaurant have a signature design or style people may want to learn about? If so, this may be the right occasion to teach them.
Idea #11: Dinner Under the Stars
If you operate in a warm-weather location, you can create romantic outdoor experiences — even in February. Oceans 234, an upscale bistro in South Florida, held a “Dinner Under the Stars” promotion on Valentine’s Day. For a fixed price, guests enjoyed a four-course picnic-style meal on the beach with a blanket, lantern, and bottle of wine. Instead of just promoting a meal to remember, the restaurant played to its strengths and promoted an evening to remember.
Idea #12: Romantic Winter Lodges
If you operate in a cold-weather location, beachfront picnics are obviously off the table. However, cold-weather outdoor dining has become normalized over the past few years with outdoor structures. If properly equipped and decorated, winter lodges like those at Bresca in Washington, D.C., can be extremely romantic. Just be sure to make your decorations stand out, because this approach is popular.
How to Promote Valentine’s Day Offerings
Marketing your Valentine’s Day happenings doesn’t need to be difficult. Lean on three digital channels — your website, email, and social media — to successfully get the word out. Find out more about each tactic below.
1. Update your website.
Offering a special Valentine’s Day menu or limited-time dishes for the holiday? Add them to your website ASAP. Your site is the first place people look when searching for info about your restaurant, and you don’t want to lose any potential guests by not promoting your special offerings online. With BentoBox, it’s super easy to add or update your menu with any specials.
2. Use pop-up alerts.
A quick and easy way to catch the attention of online visitors is by creating a homepage alert. This is front and center to the guest and the first thing they see when they land on your site. Alerts are easy to create with BentoBox, and you can schedule their start and end times in advance. They provide easy opportunities to link to your reservations, menu, tickets, or a separate page detailing the event itself.
3. Leverage email marketing and social media.
Restaurants benefit from promoting special new offerings across their brand channels. Social media and email are the quickest ways to get this new information to their guests.
Read more: 9 Ways to Grow Your Restaurant's Email List
Some of your past diners who haven’t yet made plans for Valentine’s Day might think they’ve waited too long to make a reservation anywhere. Let them know that you’re here for them by sending a last-minute email reminder out to your list.
In the email, include your menu and any specials or deals you’re offering on Valentine’s Day, plus a call-to-action encouraging them to book a reservation now — and hey, you might even attract some guests who already have plans elsewhere, but changed their mind after seeing your menu.
If you have a great deal, special menu, or anything in between, social media is one of the best last-minute promo tools to take advantage of, since most of your guests will be on Facebook, X, or Instagram on the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
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