Valentine’s Day. The worst day of the year to run a restaurant. Not only would I much rather be at home with my other half enjoying a romantic evening for two, but EVERYTHING about owning a restaurant on Valentine’s Day sucks. So just for your information, here is what every restaurateur will be thinking of on Tuesday about your wonderful, romantic dinner a deux.
1. ‘Table for 2 please’
All my 4-seater tables, my 6-seater tables – all of them occupied by only 2 people. It’s a complete waste of perfectly good seats and means I make much less money than on a normal night.
2. ‘At 8pm’
Why do you all only get romantic at 8pm? My staff hang around for 3 hours doing absolutely nothing and then the kitchen gets completely slammed when you all place your orders within 15 minutes of each other. If you book earlier or later, you will have a much better time, I guarantee it.
3. Special occasion diners
I don’t mind these as much as my staff. These are the ‘once-a-year’ diners who only come out for a special treat. They don’t spend money, they fuss about the wine prices and they only ever order steak and chips followed by ice cream and chocolate sauce anyway. And then – and worst of all – they don’t tip because they’re not used to dining out. It would honestly be better all round if they just did what they do for the rest of the year and stayed at home.
We don’t do special meals for Valentine’s Day anymore. Why not? Well, it costs money to give you a glass of champagne, a chocolate with the bill, a rose for every lady, print special pink menu cards, book a band for the evening etc etc and very few people seem to appreciate that these costs have to be covered somewhere. Plus, my staff hate having to push lots of desserts for two on the 15th February to try and get rid of them.
Please have the courtesy to listen when my waiter is trying to talk to you. Don’t get so busy holding hands, sticking your tongues down each other’s throats, having long and drunken conversations about much you love each other etc etc that he can’t get on and do his job. You’re embarrassing yourselves and all the staff are laughing about you in the kitchen as he fetches your food.
6. Late stayers
And carrying on on that note. Yes, it’s great that you are having a lovely time at my restaurant. I am very pleased that you’ve enjoyed yourselves and that you are having a deep and meaningful conversation whilst you gaze into each other’s eyes. But now you must JUST GO HOME AND HAVE SEX OKAY??? We’re tired now and want to go home and see our partners too, and keeping everyone here whilst you order ‘just one more decaff cappuccino and a glass of tap water’ isn’t worth it. Please, stop hanging around like a bad smell, order a taxi, go forth and multiply.
Take my advice, if you’re thinking of proposing to your girlfriend or boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, then don’t. It will become a millstone round your neck for the rest of your life as you constantly strive to be twice as romantic to make up for the fact that you are cheating her out of an extra anniversary dinner every year. Trust me, I know.
*This article was originally published in 2010