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February 9, 2023
Tips & tales from the kitchen to help your restaurant prep for Valentine’s Day
Ahh love. There’s nothing quite like it. And when love, unrealistic romantic expectations, and good ole fashioned tradition get together, it can be a tough combination for restaurant workers every February 14th.
Whether it be engagement rings hidden in desserts or champagne flutes (cause that’s not a choking hazard), high-stress diners worried about making a good impression or dodging bickering couples between rounds of strawberry-flavored cocktails, there’s clearly potential for things to get a little bumpy.
With that in mind, we asked our team of former chefs, GMs, and operators what their tips are for having a successful Valentine’s Day and they did not disappoint. Here are five things restaurateurs should think about ahead of the big day.
Don’t unplug your POS while putting your shoes away
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that take up the most significant parts of our hearts (and sanity), and a working POS is no exception. As Nate K. (pictured here presenting to his team on the importance of attention to detail) confessed to us, “When I was with a restaurant group years ago, Valentine’s Day was our biggest holiday. We would bring in new tables to make more room for more covers just for that day. I had been promoted the week before so it was my first major event as GM. Naturally, our POS system went down right before service and we had to go to manual tickets until it was resolved. Turns out it was accidentally unplugged when someone was putting their shoes away.”
Buy a saw
Valentine’s Day might as well be renamed “Two-top Day” for restaurants. Andre E. (not pictured here 😢) tells us, “The worst part of Valentine’s Day is moving furniture! You’re basically converting the restaurant to have as many two-tops as possible.” For this reason, we recommend either buying a saw to save time or (more realistically) having a plan to figure out how many tables you can feasibly fit in your restaurant ahead of time (and scheduling the labor to move all of them efficiently). Your February 13th closers will thank you.
Hire a bookie
Bookies come in handy for a number of reasons. They can help facilitate the staff pool on which table will complain the most, or how many “we’re sorry your date went bad, but please stop crying in our dining room” free desserts will be sent out. Bookies can also come in handy if your reservation system accidentally double-books your entire restaurant, like what happened to Ben H (pictured here hyping himself up for a shift in a hairnet).
He told us, “We'd just transitioned to a newer version of OpenTable. Going into the day we all thought, ‘Hey that seems like a lot of covers,’ and it turns out it was. We ended up booking almost an entire restaurant full of reservations over actual capacity, resulting in folks being sat 90+ minutes AFTER their booked time slot. We had to stay open well beyond close to make sure everyone actually got seated. The GM didn't figure out until the next day that this new Open Table system had default turn times dialed way down from the previous version which allowed for the many, many extra covers.”
Reservations for big nights like Valentine’s Day are a beautiful thing. But just like those sugar-free Russell Stover chocolate boxes, too much of a good thing can end up biting you in the… erm… leg, so plan accordingly!
Dust off your Bedazzler
We’re not math majors, but it’s pretty clear that more tables mean more tickets. Eric J. (pictured here busting out gnocchi in a sweet, sweet bandana) notes, “Our kitchen would get slammed with double the number of tickets due to all the small tables.” For this reason, we recommend bringing some extra treats for your kitchen friends to help get them through. Energy drinks, candy, cooling neck wraps – maybe even bring bedazzled, Valentine’s-themed, personalized quart containers so they know whose cup is whose! Making it through Valentine’s Day is a team effort and this step will help ease the pain and annoyance when table 12 yet again asks for their steak to be re-fired because once their date starts going down in flames, apparently so must their ribeye.
Wine and dine like Saint Valentine
Just because you work in a restaurant doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a romantic night out. That’s why we recommend planning your own Valentine’s Day! Whether it's at home with your significant other, by yourself curled up on the couch with that sugar-free box of Russell Stover's chocolate (at your own risk), or at your favorite restaurant – you deserve to be wined and dined the way the good Saint Valentine intended. A bonus point for an alternative Valentine’s Day is that you’ll have less competition for getting a reservation at your favorite spot! Really, it's a win-win.
We hope that these tips and tales will help your restaurant feel the love this Valentine’s Day.
To learn how MarginEdge can help you say goodbye to the paperwork, reduce costs and streamline your restaurant’s operations, contact us to get a free demo.