Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and many restaurants are beginning to plan some special menus and events for the holiday week.

According to research firm IBISWorld, dining out for Valentine’s Day is expected to see a 2.9% growth this year, with sales exceeding $9,946,900, up from $9,671,000 in 2012. 

Choosing where to take a significant other to dinner is probably the hardest decision one has to make this time of year. This prompts the question, “What makes a restaurant romantic?”  What can you do to convert your restaurant from an everyday dining establishment to a cozy love nest that couples will want to come back to every year for this holiday, for a milestone anniversary or any other special event. Here are a few suggestions to help you capture a share of the sales generated from this important holiday.

Arousing all five senses will create an unforgettable evening for your guests. Think of sound, sight, scent, feel, and taste. 

Sound - Subdued, quiet surroundings are critical to creating an intimate evening. A normally loud and bustling venue can be toned down merely but adding rich fabric draped around a table like an enclosure, including exotic silk pillows in warm colors to a booth or chair back, or tapestries hanging on the wall to help absorb sound to create a cozy warm environment. Adding a tablecover can also help muffle loud sounds and add warmth to the room at the same time. A dramatic Black Linen-Like®tablecover with an inexpensive red tulle accent tied over the top gives the impression that you hired a decorator. Removing a few tables to create a little more space and privacy around each setting, and keeping noisy bar areas or family dining with children separate from the couple’s dining room also helps set the mood. Depending on the formality or theme of your venue, music should include either soft love songs, sensual jazz music, classical or new age/Zen as the perfect background noise. Live music such as a violin or piano player is another wonderful addition to set you apart from the rest, as long as it isn’t difficult to have a conversation over it.

Sight - Lighting should always be on a dimmer to adjust for the occasion, and this is the night to have them set at one of the lowest levels. For an even more intimate affair, the overhead lights could be turned off and small table lamps placed around the room along with a glowing votive candle placed in a wine glass with a homemade paper shade at each table. Maximize an incredible view of nature outside by putting tables set for two right next to the window, or orient all tables so that each guest can see the view. A fireplace in the room adds a warm and romantic feel to the dining experience. Colors should be rich and warm, with red, burgundy or purple being favorites for this season. Our rich Red Linen-Like® Flat Packs™ can be folded into a heart shape or other fancy fold and are a perfect addition to your romantic table setting. Sparkling crystal goblets in all sizes pre-set on the table show your guests that this is going to be a special evening.

Scent - With scent being the strongest of the five senses, this is one to focus on. Exotic flowers such as white or pale pink orchids, red calla lilies or roses of any color are a must have centerpiece to create a romantic celebration and fragrance the air.  Candles in subtle vanilla or seductive patchouli are also nice as long as they aren’t overpowering. The woodsy scent of a crackling fireplace mingles nicely with all of the above and creates warmth.

Feel - Silk cushions, velvet pillows, soft tablecovers and napkins add a tactile experience to the event. A fireplace adds warmth to the evening and textured fabric draperies, grass cloth wallpaper or rich brocade fabric on booth cushions can all add to the evening’s sensory overload.

Taste - Stimulate the senses by offering known aphrodisiac foods such as asparagus drizzled in hollandaise sauce, avocados and almonds topping a colorful spinach salad, bananas sautéed in a rich honey bourbon sauce, oysters Rockefeller served with champagne, double dark chocolate cupcakes featured in our bright Red Tulip Cups, a fig tart, or the garlic in shrimp scampi. Tapas and small plates for sharing are a huge trend this year and the Valentine’s holiday is a perfect time to introduce them if you haven’t already. Seductive finger foods for feeding to each other and a bright ruby red pomegranate hand blended cocktail round out the perfect meal.

Last, but not least is the wait staff.  A server can make or break an evening. A fantastic waiter is one that is as unobtrusive as possible, and knows not to interrupt a couple deep in conversation. They are someone who is attentive yet organized to minimize trips to the table.

Check out our Pinterest board “Love is in the Air” for more recipes, product and decorating ideas for your next successful Valentine’s Day event! 


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