Back in the days of my restaurant, Goldie’s by the Bridge, we used to brand some holidays as “dummies’ day-out”. Valentine’s Day was the queen of them all. These are occasions when people who don’t usually dine out suddenly do. These folks go out perhaps 3 or 4 times a year, and are less acquainted with restaurant rituals than regular diners. Restaurant staffs prepare for these days, both physically and mentally. Here’s some insight to ensure your salute to romance is inspiring, not infuriating.
What You May Encounter on a “Dummies’ Day Out”:
- Food not up to par with restaurant standards
- Slower service
- Tardy seating
- Higher prices
- Prix fixe-only
Why These Realities Occur:
- Restaurants need to maximize business on such holidays, so they may overbook and might even cram extra tables into the dining room. Of course, everyone wants to dine between 7:00pm– 8:30pm. So, unless a restaurant strategically books reservations, the lion’s share of tables are sat at 7:30pm, swamping a server’s station as well as flooding the kitchen with orders at once.
- Folks who make very early reservations because they call last-minute and can only get a 5:00pm table typically arrive late, are seated late, take their time, and hold seating up for the next turn of tables.
- In an effort to manage increased traffic for the evening, many restaurants create streamlined, special menus for the holiday. Another reason for holiday menus: prices of raw ingredients often rise the week of a holiday. The increase is passed on to the guest.
How To Navigate These Realities:
- During ‘the rush’, dining standards quickly become compromised. If you are committed to dining out, go early or late, avoiding prime-time seating. At the beginning of the night, or after the rush, the kitchen can actually pay attention to each plate.
- Celebrate at your favorite restaurant either the night before or the night after the holiday.
- Cook a romantic meal at home: it doesn’t have to be elaborate to be delicious. A simple, elegant and seasonal meal could be comprised of avocado, arugula & orange salad, roast chicken & potatoes, and chocolate-dipped mangoes and pears.
Happy Valentine’s Day, and keep it “dummy-free”!