Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or hate. Middle ground is scarce and most supporters can’t fathom why anyone would choose to dislike such a heartfelt day. Well, I’m here to proclaim — and yell from the rooftops — that I despise Valentine’s Day.
I shared this information with a few co-workers recently and they were interested to learn why I felt this hatred so deep in my soul. I started to reflect back on my life to try and figure out where the dislike originated. I mean, say what you want about the story of Saint Valentin who continued to marry young couples after his emperor forbid it, in the end, Valentine’s Day is just another holiday created with the sole purpose to force us to spend money on crap no one really needs. But, that fact alone couldn’t possibly be why I hate it so much. Then it hit me: The career path I love so much is the main reason I loathe the very day created specifically for love.
It all started with my first bartending shift, which just happened to be on Valentine’s Day. By that time I was already a restaurant veteran. I’d worked in the kitchen and as a server, but somehow I had always avoided working on what would become my most detested day of the year. I spent that first shift waiting on couples dressed in pink and red that seemed to be alien to the etiquette of dining out. One woman asked me to make her a lemon drop martini and then took one sip and sent it back because it was too sour and too sweet … IT’S A LEMON DROP. In the end, I had endured the worst night of my career. The customers’ attitudes were consistently horrible and the tips were even worse. I vowed at that very moment that I would never work a Valentine’s shift again.
Fast forward several years later: I’m the director of events for a bar and restaurant group not exactly known for offering extravagant and expensive Valentine’s Day specials. Out of nowhere, our regional manager decided that it was time to switch things up. Instead of our usual anti-Valentine’s Day-themed events, we were going to cater to couples with a prix fixe menu that, of course, ended in a molten chocolate lava cake and a free glass of cheap champagne. I was so disappointed. But, business is business, and ultimately it wasn’t up to me. So, I swallowed my pride, bought a gazillion red roses, ordered too many cases of low-end champagne, and started marketing our first Valentine’s Day promotion geared towards couples.
This is where my story takes a turn. Not only was the night a huge success, it brought in almost double what our past three Valentine’s events had. DOUBLE. The feedback was great around the board. From our venue in Boston all the way to Las Vegas, the night was a huge success.
So what does this all have to do with you? Well, I figured if I hate Valentine’s Day as much as I do, I can’t be the only person in the hospitality industry that feels this way. So I’m here to tell my fellow haters to look beyond the cheesy traditions and think about the growth and success of your business. Set your light switches to romantic, stream rom-coms from every TV, and play some Marvin Gaye. Everyone deserves a special night out, and for some, Valentine’s Day is the only time they get. Cater to them, be their date spot, serve them cheap champagne, and collect that money. We continue to work in this crazy industry because we love it, so go out and help spread that love. Who knows, you may even gain some repeat customers in the process.
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Need some Valentine’s Day inspo for your venue? Check out our recent blog post highlighting tips on how you can prepare your restaurant for a fun-filled lovers holiday.