The holiday of love is a special time of year for many couples. We discuss the origins of the event and why this day might be more important than you think if you don’t serve food.

Sex, sacrifice and spirits

St. Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia which is estimated to be an annual affair that would have taken place in around 600bc. Lupercalia was a bloody, violet and sexual festival awash with animal sacrifice and random matchmaking. The Romans believed that the festival warded off evil spirits in addition to promoting fertility. Fast forward a few centuries and like all holidays it’s evolved into something else. Instead of sacrifices of goats, dogs and other animals, February 14th is now commonly known for the cards, flowers, gifts and experiences that people spoil their ‘valentine’ with.

Dry no more

Valentine’s Day will be the first big night out of the year for some. The public will have started to move away from Dry January and the self-imposed spending sanctions after what was likely an expensive Christmas and holiday season. Because of this, standing out as a venue on Valentine’s Day is key to attracting customers to your venue; and getting footfall through the door.

Research from CGA in February 2019 suggested that bars and pubs are potentially missing out on extra wet sales. They found that only 7% of non-food venues ran Valentine’s Day specific drink offers, as opposed to 50% of food-led venues.

With a lot of people coming off the back of Dry January some extra marketing around the event is certainly something to be considered. Maybe you can achieve extra footfall with reduced drink prices, a premium Valentine’s Day cocktail menu or a traffic light party with corresponding shots for the student crowd. Every venue is different and it’ll depend on your typical clientele.

Early February we’ll be putting out some Valentine’s Day cocktail suggestions on our website as well as sending these out via email. So keep an eye out!

Mutton dressed as lamb

While a menu compiled of oysters and champagne is known as a classic, to others it may be seen as outdated. Adapting your menu to go toe-to-toe with the premium types of venues that typically offer those delights won’t necessarily get you the customers you’re looking for. If you don’t want to create a whole new menu for just one or two days of the year, you could adapt what you currently have on offer to make it more Valentine friendly.

Aesthetically pleasing instagrammable food will be a priority for some. Pizza Express has had success in the past with their famous dough balls, simply by crafting them in a heart shape. Morrisons audaciously sold a heartshaped steak for Valentine’s Day last year dubbed ‘the sweetheart steak’ which shows there’s a market out there to capitalise on. I think I’d personally shudder at the thought, for me heartshaped meat is a no-no, but each to their own! I’m not saying serve everything heart-shaped, but you get the idea.

Whatever you decide, ensure that the kitchen goes the extra distance to make your offerings not only look but also taste special.