Posted on | January 24, 2014
Written by | Andrew Bell
The Evening of Deuces (as I like to call it) is rapidly approaching. And the pressure is mounting. The reservations-for-two are pouring in and you’re looking around in a panic at all the four-tops in your dining room, trying to determine where to put them all. Sure, there may be the odd quartet, but every other party is a couple. That’s right…I’m talking about the fabulous February 14th!
If this is your first Valentine’s Day on the floor, rest up. This can be one of the best nights of the year for some of your guests, but the least exciting—and most exhausting—for those in the service industry. The key to survival? Preparedness.
Start by creating an extensive By-the-Glass offering that pairs well with the chef’s inspirations for the evening. The kitchen will likely be in the weeds most of the night. Having many easy let’s-get-you-started glasses to offer gives you an opportunity to quickly serve a beverage, thus relieving some pressure from the kitchen and allowing for a smoother service evening.
Understand that this is not a typical date night and most likely it’s not a splurge night. In fact, seasoned restaurant-goers often avoid this evening and I’ve even heard some refer to it as Amateur Night. So, you will find that for many diners in your establishment on the 14th, Valentine’s Day is value night.
Romancing the Glass
Valentine’s Day draws out a greater number of inexperienced (or simple less-frequent) diners than the typical evening. Often you will find guests who are looking for an amazing experience while trying to remain economical. For this reason, many will dine and drink on a glass-by-glass basis (often finishing with a wine check at the end of dinner that comes close to the cost of a bottle anyway). An expanded BTG list doesn’t necessarily take away from any potential bottle sales that may follow the initial glass; it does, however, give your guests a great variety of choices, allowing them the opportunity to affordably visit different areas of your list, one glass at a time.
Of course, be sure to include at least one option for pink bubbles. With the economical guest in mind, don’t limit yourself to Champagne—offer something from a secondary market, whether it be Spanish Cava, French Crémant or Venetian Refosco, to name a few. There are plenty of great value options to choose from.
Start planning now and you will have a chance to not only pair your BTG offerings with the chef’s menu, but also to eliminate from your program some of those pesky unwanted wines… it’s a win-win! Your guest will be enthralled, your beverage cost improved and your General Manager content!
*Back by popular demand, on February 9th American Sommelier is offering “A Brief History of the VinoVerse”—American Sommelier’s seminar covering people and events that have had major impacts on the history of wine. This seminar will be led by American Sommelier President, Andrew F. Bell. Eight wines will be poured to illustrate the lecture.
Andrew Bell is a co-founder and president of American Sommelier. Through the Sales, Service and Buying Seminar Series, American Sommelier provides professionals with the tools needed to build and maintain a successful wine program in any restaurant environment. Member benefits include events, career guidance, discounts and a the American Sommelier newsletter. For more details and a calendar of classes, visit americansommelier.com or call 212-226-6805.