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The Ultimate Guide to Valentine's Day Marketing for Restaurants (2024 Edition)

February 1, 2024 6 min
Director of Marketing at Eat App
Reviewed by
Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

Valentine's Day isn't just a celebration of love -- it's also a multi-billion dollar industry. From gifts for that special someone to romantic dinners, the “Feast of Saint Valentine” is all about consumption -- after all, it is one of the busiest restaurant days of the year, second only to Mother's Day.

This guide will show you how your restaurant can take advantage of Valentine's Day to increase your profits and bring in new clientele for this once-a-year romantic night.

>> Grab our free event planning checklist for your next event

Valentine's day for restaurants

When should you start planning for Valentine's Day at your restaurant?

About a quarter of Americans eat out on this day, and they spend, on average, $286.56 per check. This means that if you make the most of Valentine's Day at your restaurant, the holiday could end up marking your most profitable evening of the year. But you need to have a plan in place in order to do this.

Everything from your menu to the promotions you plan on running to your decorations should be planned well in advance. Most restaurants should start thinking about Valentine's Day planning by early January at the latest.

Keep in mind that restaurants start filling up with Valentine's Day reservations by early February, so you will need to have a solid marketing strategy and plan already in place by mid-January so you can start marketing by late January.

Designing a Valentine's Day menu for your restaurant

If Valentine's Day is one of the biggest days of the year in the restaurant industry, then you should be creating one of your restaurant's best menus for this evening. Portland-based McMenamins Black Rabbit Restaurant decided to play up the romance last year with an aphrodisiac menu crafted just for the evening.

Valentine's day special menu

Valentine's Day cocktails are a great way to not only draw people in but also to keep check prices high and increase restaurant profits.

You could even use them to run a happy hour special event, bringing in people who made reservations at other restaurants for pre-dinner drinks. Think up some festive beverages that incorporate pink, red, and hearts.

If you're going to go all out, do it with your after-dinner menu. Named one of the 50 best restaurants in Atlanta three years in a row, Atlas Restaurant understands the importance of dessert on a holiday like Valentine's Day, and last year, they created a bespoke dessert called “All You Need is Love” available only on February 14.

Consider adding some dessert cocktails to the menu as well. If designed properly, desserts can be one of your most profitable menu items.

Finally, a Valentine's Day prix fixe menu is a popular Valentine's dinner option because it helps your kitchen staff deal with the holiday rush efficiently.

At the same time, a special menu with a set price can be appealing to people planning ahead, and most people are looking to spring for a four-course meal on this special day.

Free Restaurant Event Planning Checklist Create a simple checklist for your next event using our free and customizable  template Download Now

Decorating your restaurant for Valentine’s Day

The ambiance is the biggest deciding factor when it comes to choosing a restaurant for Valentine's Day, with 21% of diners making their decision based on who offers the most romantic atmosphere.

valentines day marketing ideas

Avoid coming off as kitsch while still setting the mood by dimming the lights a bit more than usual and bringing out some candles. Understated details like roses and napkins folded in the shape of a heart are also a nice touch.

Finally, consider hiring musicians -- a good live jazz band will make more money and do the heavy lifting for you when it comes to setting the mood.

How to promote your restaurant on Valentine’s Day

February 14th is an incredibly competitive holiday for the restaurant business, as customers and couples put a lot of thought into choosing where to celebrate love when they dine on this special night.

This means that your menu offerings and ambiance are crucial, but Valentine's Day isn't a build it and they will come situation. Promoting your restaurant effectively with the right valentines day marketing is the key to making sure you milk this day for all it's worth.

Creative promotion ideas for restaurants on Valentine’s Day

Apart from creating a stand-out Valentine's Day menu, running special Valentine's Day marketing ideas is a great way to boost sales and to entice customers to choose your restaurant over the competition.

  • Pre-dinner events: Hosting couples cooking classes or a free wine tasting is a great way to bring customers in during the day. This interactive experience is also a great opportunity to get your customers to post user generated content on their social media platforms for potential customers to see and make same day bookings.

  • Introduce a new menu item: 11% of Valentine's Day diners pick a restaurant they haven't been to before, so introducing a unique new menu item can help you pull in those customers looking to try something new. Your menu update could be part of a larger Valentine's day campaign to help build excitement before the big day (you could even consider giving early access to some of your existing customers).

  • Valentine's Day gifts: Offer special Valentine's Day gift bags filled with local products or samples, couples packages, or a free glass of champagne to draw diners in. If your restaurant has an online store, you could also put together an article about must have gift ideas to help with gift buying in the weeks leading up to valentine's day. Maybe consider providing repeat customers or loyalty members with a discount code for special discounts.

  • Gift card deals: National Restaurant Association research shows that restaurant gift cards are the #1 most requested Valentine's Day gift for men. Running a gift card promotion can help you bring in extra profits from clients who choose to dine at home on February 14th.

  • To go meals: Want to target the couples who prefer a quiet night in on Valentine's Day? Last year, Atlanta favorite Alon's Bakery and Market designed a very successful six-course romantic dinner for two -- to go.

  • Singles and group events: If your establishment doesn't typically cater to couples, consider hosting a singles night or a “Galentine's Day” event.

Strategic marketing tips for restaurants on Valentine’s Day

Marketing has the power to make or break your restaurant's Valentine's Day strategy, and pasting up flyers can only go so far. Here are some marketing ideas and some tips for spreading the word about your promotions.

Partner with local businesses. Consider teaming up with a local theater or hotel to cross-promote your events. You could even put together Valentine's Day date package deals (dinner and a movie, anyone?) with other establishments in your area.

Harness the power of social media. An effective social media strategy for your restaurant is particularly important leading up to Valentine's Day. Try running relevant social campaigns and paid Instagram ads, highlighting your Valentine's Day menu on Pinterest and Instagram, and offering exclusive Valentine's Day specials to your social media followers. 

Keep your website landing page and event calendar updated with any Valentine's Day promotions as well.

Hire live music. If your establishment is set up to offer live music, hiring a popular local band or musician can be a great way to market your restaurant on Valentine's Day. Not only are you creating a romantic ambiance, but the band is likely to promote the event to their fans, giving you some free marketing.

Leverage your website and social media channels for bookings. If your restaurant has an online presence - utilizing your website and social media channels is a great way to drive sales from last minute shoppers. Updating your website and social channels with Valentine's day content is one idea to capture online search traffic on one of the busiest days of the year and convert it into new customers.

Your online booking widget for example, when integrated on your website, Google and social channels is a great way to boost discoverability and promote valentine's day events. People will be searching for restaurants on Google Map's the day of, and having your restaurant profile there and optimized to generate bookings should be an essential element of your valentine's day marketing campaigns.

Surviving Valentine’s Day as a restaurant owner

Valentine's Day might be profitable for restaurants, but it can also be extremely stressful. Advance planning is key to staying calm through the chaos, as is staffing your restaurant accordingly.

Surviving Valentine's day as a restaurant owner

As long as you follow this guide to preparing your restaurant for Valentine’s Day and start marketing your promotions early on, you should have no trouble filling up your tables while also staying sane.

Free Restaurant Event Planning Checklist Create a simple checklist for your next event using our free and customizable  template Download Now

Frequently asked questions about Valentine's day marketing ideas

How do you market for Valentine's Day?

There are a number of ways to market your restaurant for Valentine's Day. These include, utilizing social media to get the word out about any special offers or events you are hosting, partnering with local businesses to cross-promote valentine's day, hire live music to entice potential customers, put together a special menu for Valentine's day, host pre-dinner events to get day-time visitors and think about hosting a singles event to not single out any relationship status.

Who is the target market for Valentine's Day?

Your restaurant's target marketing for Valentine's day is obviously going to be couples. Try to cater your Valentine's Day promotion ideas to romantic partners that might be looking for something to do on the special day. If you extra room in your Valentine's Day campaigns - you could also think about catering to the "Galentine's Day" crowd, the people that maybe don't have anyone to celebrate the day with.

When should I start Valentine's Day marketing?

Ideally you'd want to start your marketing plan for your Valentine's day event as soon into the Valentine's day season as possible. Most restaurants start preparing as soon as the first week of January, so the sooner you can start putting together your marketing plan the better.

What businesses do well on Valentine's Day?

Any business that can either provide customers with a special night or themed products do the best during the Valentine's day season. One of the most lucrative business types during this season is restaurants. No conventional Valentine's Day is complete without a romantic dinner for two accompanied by a little gift like flowers, chocolates or jewellery at the end.



Director of Marketing at Eat App

For the past 7+ years Ryan has been focused on helping restaurants succeed with digital marketing and front-of-house operations. He is Director Marketing at Eat App.

Reviewed by

Nezar Kadhem

Nezar Kadhem

Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

He is a regular speaker and panelist at industry events, contributing on topics such as digital transformation in the hospitality industry, revenue channel optimization and dine-in experience.

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