Making the most of Valentine’s Day at your venue
Valentine’s Day is around the corner and, love it or loathe it, it presents an opportunity for hospitality venues – whether you’re leaning into it or providing a refuge for those avoiding the occasion. We look at the array of V-Day activities across the country, and how to prepare your restaurant, bar or pub for Valentine’s Day.
All-in on Valentine’s
At Found Bar & Restaurant at the Lost Property Hotel in London, a special promotion for the occasion consists of a three-course meal with Chapel Down Sparkling for £79. “Valentine’s Day is a very important occasion at our venue, as we aim to provide a romantic and memorable experience for our guests. We’ve noticed that our customers are more interested in quality over quantity, and they appreciate our attention to detail and personalised service,” says assistant restaurant and bar general manager Alexandru Corici. “We have trained our staff to be attentive, friendly and discreet, and to anticipate the needs of our guests.”
Battersea restaurant and bar Joia has created a cocktail for the occasion – made with vodka, rose petals, elderflower and vanilla foam – as well as creating a wine-pairing experience to match Portuguese wines with a sharing menu. “Valentine’s Day is an incredible occasion here at Joia,” says bar manager Alessandro Mannello. “This year is our very first one, having opened our doors in February 2023, which makes it even more exciting.”
Image credit to Rebecca Hope
At boutique hotel Rusacks St Andrews in Fife the occasion is taken seriously, according to food & beverage manager Michael Miller, who describes three Valentine’s specials, including a beef wellington for two, available throughout February. “Valentine’s Day is a calendar highlight at 18 St Andrews, our destination rooftop restaurant at Rusacks St Andrews. We welcome regular guests for a memorable meal, as well as guests from across the globe who are staying at the hotel to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” he says.
Restaurant group Local and Wild, owned by the Gladwin Brothers, has created a six course farm-to-fork tasting menu for 14 February this year, available at all five of its restaurants, priced at £75 per person. They’re offering a curated wine pairing for an additional £50, including wines from the Gladwin Brothers Nutbourne Vineyards in Sussex.
Cinnamon Collection, which includes The Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Bazaar, is offering a dedicated menu on 14 February, which includes a glass of Francoise Monay Rosé Champagne. Or there’s the four-course La Festa Degli Innamorati menu at Theo Randall at the InterContinental, priced at £110 per person, including a welcome glass of prosecco. Even more upmarket is the five-course tasting menu from recently-opened Mauro Colagreco at Raffles London at The OWO, priced at £245 per person, including a welcome glass of Billecart-Salmon Rosé.
For a more budget option, steakhouse group Bar + Block is offering a three course menu for £35, with a complimentary Bed of Roses cocktail, made with Absolut Raspberri, Tequila Rose and cream.
Over at 100 Wardour Street, the team have enlisted party band Sol and The Gang to entertain couples with live R&B, pop and soul love songs while they enjoy a three course menu. For live jazz, there’s the Great Northern Hotel, with music courtesy of Rocca Brother’s Jazz Trio, starting with a complimentary glass of Simpsons Canterbury sparkling rosé.
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There’s more to Valentine’s than just catering to couples. In recent years, alternatives such as Galentine’s have been growing in popularity, offering a more inclusive option. One hospitality group going big on this celebration is Red Engine, which includes Flight Club Darts and Electric Shuffle.
“It’s by no means anti-Valentine’s. Whether you’re single or attached, our Galentine’s Brunch – available at Flight Club and Electric Shuffle nationally – promises an amazing time with a group of people you love, platonically or romantically,” says head of PR Hayley Coleman. Guests to these brunch events receive a bottle of prosecco and mini bottle of Chambord, as well as unlimited pizza, priced at £35 per person.
For another Galentine’s option, there’s Phoenix Arts Club, which is offering a cabaret event including a show and dinner. Tickets include a glass of prosecco, three course meal and an evening of entertainment.
Inception Group, which includes venues such as Mr Fogg’s and Barts, is catering for those celebrating V-Day and its alternatives. “This year at a selection of Mr Fogg’s, those who purchase two glasses of Rosé Impérial Champagne will receive a curated box of Vanilla and Mixed Berry macarons, ideal for those celebrating Valentine’s, Galentine’s or even anti-Valentine’s,” says co-founder Charlie Gilkes.
Of course, the other alternative is to treat the 14th of February like any other day. “When we first opened, we used to offer a special Valentines menu but saw that it wasn't very popular due to the fact that our guests are mainly foodies that avoid special curated menus for special dates and just come the date after or before for our regular Kitchen Table experience,” says Sandia Chang, co-founder and sommelier at Kitchen Table.
Image credit to Marcus Cobden
“We’re not running any promotions or activities around Valentine’s Day this year. Just providing our guests with the same amazing experience like any other day.”
Tips for making the most of Valentine’s Day at your venue
“I would suggest tailoring an offering to help guests to celebrate their love. Sharing concepts are the most easy and effective ways to bring couples together. You also need to show your love to your guests who have decided to celebrate such an important day with you, so a welcome drink is a must. But think outside of the box.” Alessandro Mannello, Joia
“Valentine’s Day has changed so much in recent years. By offering something for the occasion that is not targeting just couples, with activations that are also geared towards those celebrating the occasion with friends or even anti-Valentine’s, there is the ability to widen the potential customer base.” Charlie Gilkes, Inception Group
“Know your target market and tailor your offer to their preferences and budget. If you cater to young professionals, you may want to offer a cocktail menu and a live band, while if you cater to older couples, you may want to offer a classic menu and a quiet setting. You may also want to partner with other local businesses, such as florists, jewelers, or spas, to offer cross-promotions and referrals. Be prepared and organised – make sure you have enough staff, stock, and equipment to handle the increased demand, and you may want to have a contingency plan in case of any unforeseen issues, such as bad weather, power outage, or staff shortage.” Alexandru Corici, Lost Property and Found
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