10 Last Minute Valentine’s Day Promotions for Restaurants

10 Last Minute Valentine's Day Promotions for Restaurants


I’ve written before about how Valentine’s Day is my least favorite holiday of the year, but if you’re in the restaurant business you shouldn’t ignore the day dedicated to flowers, chocolate and unrealistic expectations. 😉

Guerilla Marketing, Stuffed Animals, and my Least Favorite Holiday of the Year

I think a combination of of social media promotion and “real world” ideas are the most effective….Need some inspiration? Here are a few fun ideas:

  1. Ask a question on Facebook like, “If you could share a _____ (insert the restaurant specialty here) with anyone, who would it be?” Boost the post for $5 or $10 and I guarantee you’ll get tons of traction. Choose the winner at random and give out a free ______ (whatever-the-specialty is).
  2. Guess how many Hershey Kisses are in the jar. Old school, but people LOVE this one! Fill a big pretty glass jar with Hershey Kisses and place in a prominent spot on the restaurant. Have slips available for people to write their guess in – along with their email address.  The winner gets the candy and the jar and you can throw in something from the restaurant if you like. It’s a great way to build your email list.
  3. Is your restaurant casual, not the typical romantic date night destination? Market a Family Night for Valentine’s Day. A lot of young families are focused on the kids and they aren’t going to take them to the fancy-schmancy restaurants for Valentine’s Day. Give out a little goody bag to each child, maybe make a special heart shaped pizza or other kid’s meal. You could even set up a Valentine’s Day themed photo booth for the occasion….or have a photographer roaming the restaurant snapping photos. Photos could be displayed on a board in the restaurant lobby.
  4. Speaking of pizza – why not market a heart shaped pizza, available only on Valentine’s Day?
  5. Run a “cutest couple”,”How we met” or “most creative proposal” contest on social media.
  6.  Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to thank your regular customers. Create a special voucher that you personally give to your regulars – “_____ Restaurant LOVES Joe Smith!” with an offer not available anywhere else. They won’t be expecting it, so it will make more of an impact.
  7. Dress up an employee as a giant heart or Cupid and send them around to area businesses to hand out flyers.
  8. Hold an “anti-Valentine’s Day” event targeting singles – “Love Stinks – let’s Drink!” or a singles happy hour.
  9. Market a special tasting menu – pair beer or wine with a special Valentine’s Day menu. A set menu will make life easier on your kitchen staff too.
  10. Make the day a fundraiser for a local charity, with a percentage of the proceeds going to a non profit organization. The Heart Association is an obvious choices, but with so many animal lovers out there, a shelter would be a great choice too. You could kick off the event with an “I Love My Pet” photo contest on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to get the charity involved so they can help promote your event through their channels.

And for goodness sake….if someone makes arrangements to propose to their sweetheart at your restaurant on Valentine’s Day, don’t screw it up. A good friend of mine recently made a arrangements with a restaurant to propose to his girlfriend at their establishment. He had a particular table reserved and he booked a musician to play her favorite song. He went over all the details well in advance, leaving nothing to chance. When they arrived and he gave the host his name, the host attempted to seat them at the wrong table. My friend did not want to let the cat out of the bag, but he said – “Could we please have THAT table?” – pointing to the table he had reserved with the manager weeks before. The host said “I’m sorry, man – some guy has that table reserved, he’s going to propose to his girlfriend tonight”. Seriously? The story has spread like wildfire in my friend’s social media networks, and it definitely didn’t help the restaurant’s reputation. 

What do you think, do you have some good ideas to put in motion this week? I hope you’re inspired to create a fun, traffic building promotion for V-Day.


Julie Briggs




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