(MS) Chocolates and flowers may be staples of Valentine’s Day, but many couples take it one step further and dine out on Feb. 14.
According to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association’sValentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, 34.6 percent of respondents indicated that dining out would be part of their Valentine’s Day agenda.
A romantic dinner is an ideal capper for a day geared around love and affection. But Valentine’s Day is a busy night for many restaurants, so it pays to heed the following advice to ensure this special night is memorable for all the right reasons.
Make reservations well in advance. Dining out is especially popular on Valentine’s Day, so call several weeks in advance to secure your spot. Also, do not underestimate the draw of all types of restaurants on Valentine’s Day. People who were not able to get a table at their first choices may trickle into chain restaurants or smaller establishments in search of an easy meal. If you think your lesser-known haunt will not be packed, think again. Always play it safe by making a reservation early.
Expect some crowding. Restaurants tend to add extra tables onValentine’s Day, when they expect an influx of customers. Dining rooms may be more packed than usual, and you may not have a choice of where you will be seated. Even a reservation does not guarantee you won’t have to wait for a table. Be patient upon arriving at the restaurant, and consider wait time when factoring in childcare.
Be flexible with the menu. Price-fixed menus are commonplace on nights when there will be a large turnover of customers in a short amount of time. These menus allow restaurants to stock up on the necessary ingredients and cook en masse. Diners may find that price-fixed menus offer a limited selection, and their favorite dishes may not be available. But knowing this in advance can reduce feelings of disappointment. Rest assured there should be several options that appeal to different palates.
Be patient with servers. Valentine’s Day is a busy night for staff at the restaurant, particularly servers who must be the liaison between the kitchen staff and diners. The sheer volume of customers can test the skills of even the most veteran servers. Many Valentine’s Day diners do not eat out regularly and will need extra guidance. Servers may be called on to snap photos of couples with cell phones or linger at certain tables. Use idle time at your table to engage in romantic conversation and plan the rest of the evening.
Consider your budget. Diners can expect to pay a premium for dining out on Valentine’s Day. Select a lower-priced restaurant if your budget is on the smaller side.
Be on time. Being respectful of your reservation will not only benefit you, but also it is a courtesy to fellow diners who will be sitting at your table later in the evening. While you may want to linger over dessert, try not to linger too long.
Promptly store leftovers. If you take a doggie bag home from dinner, stash it in the refrigerator as soon as possible to prevent foodborne illnesses. If you will be going out dancing or to a movie after dinner, it may be best to skip the doggie bag altogether.
Valentine’s Day is a busy night for dining out. Patience, courtesy and flexibility are traits that can keep your evening moving along smoothly.