Thursday, February 6, 2014

Valentine's Day restaurant reservations strong for 2014

If you haven’t made your reservations for Valentine’s Day, which lands on a Friday this year, what are you waiting for? Restaurants in Louisiana are reporting strong bookings, and many are planning to also host diners for the special occasion on the following Saturday night.

Valentine’s Day is the second busiest day for restaurants, behind Mother’s Day, and nearly 70 million Americans are planning to treat their significant other to a romantic meal to commemorate the occasion. That’s one quarter of the nation’s diners planning to spend their evening in restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). 

Diners surveyed by OpenTable last year said they were prepared to spend an average of $139 on dinner out, about two-thirds more than the typical OpenTable check average of $85 per couple. Collectively last year, diners spent $4 billion on meals out on Valentine’s Day.

Restaurants use the opportunity to make the evening special with prix fixe menus with celebratory desserts, champagne, flowers and music. Thirteen percent of diners surveyed by the NRA said they select a restaurant that offers a special menu or promotions.

"We're offering a four-course Valentine's Day dinner for $40 and Moet Chandon Brut Rose for $8 a glass, said Scott Callais, general manager at Juban's Restaurant in Baton Rouge. "We are also featuring dancing with Ned Fasullo and the Fabulous Big Band Orchestra.

When choosing where to dine out for Valentine’s Day, the NRA’s research revealed that 42 percent of diners say they pick their favorite restaurant or their companion’s favorite restaurant for the their special meal, as opposed to 11 percent of diners who said they select a restaurant they have never visited. Twenty-two percent of diners said they seek a restaurant with a romantic atmosphere. 

The biggest challenge for restaurants on Valentine’s Day is finding enough two-top tables. In a Nation’s Restaurant News article, Cornell University professor of services operations management Sherri Kimes provides a formula for calculating what restaurant owners can expect. She urges restaurateurs to use data from the prior-year holidays and encourages renting the two-tops needed to maximize revenue opportunity.

When given a list of six Valentine’s gift options that they’d like to receive, a NRA survey found that 31 percent of adults favored restaurant gift cards, followed by jewelry, clothing, flowers, chocolate and perfume. When broken down by gender, 46 percent of men favored restaurant gift cards over the other gift options.

Reservations will no doubt be difficult to come by if not made in advance. Take the time today and make your reservation for that special someone in your life. 

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