Restaurant Owners Actually Hate Valentine’s Day: Not Great For Business

You might think that restaurant owners look forward to Valentine's Day like Hershey's looks forward to Halloween. You would have thought wrong. According to the New York Post, restaurateurs actually dread the day upon which the West celebrates courtly love in the name of St. Valentine.

"Add restaurateurs to the list of curmudgeons who don’t love Valentine’s Day," says Lisa Fickenscher. "Anxious lovebirds scrambling to book a table this week might guess that fancy eateries are gaga over Feb. 14. But many proprietors say it’s actually a once-a-year headache they’d just as soon skip."
Sure, couples often indulge in elevated food on Valentine's Day, often shelling out an extra $50 for that special bottle of cabernet or that over-priced chocolate souffle, but as a whole, the day leaves more to be desired from a business standpoint.
"It clears out the highly profitable regulars at the bar, who quaff more drinks," the report continued. "Likewise, the tables-for-two-only night limits the size of the tab that comes with bigger groups and corporate events."
Nick Valenti, chief executive of Patina Restaurant Group, which owns 70 eateries, including The Sea Grill and Rock Center Cafe, said that Valentine's Day offers only the appearance of success. "Our restaurants are absolutely full because every table is taken," he told the Post. "But not every table is maximized because you have tables for four being occupied by two people."
Couples also linger at the tables long after having paid their bill. Typically, a couple will spend 75 to 90 minutes in a restaurant, but on Valentine's Day, they can spend upwards of 120 minutes at the table. Burak Karacam, owner of two Pera Mediterranean Brasserie eateries in Manhattan, said that Valentine's Day is just not great for business.
"It cannot be said that Valentine’s Day is great for business or tipped staff," Karacam told the Post.
This business trouble helps explain why restaurants typically offer prix fixe menus that can run upwards of $265 per person, such as Tavern on the Green's menu this year. None of that, however, helps the fact that couples celebrating Valentine's Day don't often behave like lovebirds while dining out. In fact, sometimes tensions can be quite hostile.
"Another dirty V-Day secret: Couples aren’t always quietly canoodling," says the article. "Instead, the pressures of the holiday can lead to tension — and even fights worthy of a Hollywood script, according to restaurant personnel."
One such horrible example occurred at a Lebanese restaurant in Manhattan where a couple decided to get divorced on that very night.
While restaurants may not exactly be in love with Valentine's Day, economists agree the day generates tremendous revenue as a whole. According to Forbes, Americans will spend upwards of $20.7 billion on Valentine's Day this year.
"According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers will spend $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2019," reports Forbes. "In terms of overall individual transactions, candy and greeting cards rank one and two."
The report continued: "However, in terms of overall dollar value of the purchases, jewelry and flowers lead the way. In these two leading categories, an increasing percentage of purchases are being made over the internet. A recent survey by suggests some interesting demographic difference in Valentine’s Day purchases. Younger millennials spend more than their older millennial counterparts, couples who are together longer spend less than those together for a shorter period, and as one would expect, men spend more than women."
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