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Hospitality–Valentine’s Day Makes for Profitable Love Fest

Hospitality: Holiday Has Restaurateurs Eager To Impress Diners

The inspiration for Valentine’s Day dates back to the late 200s, to the martyrdom of a Roman priest executed for defying an emperor’s order to ban marriages.

Ah, but it is the French flair for romance that gives the holiday its soul.

Folklore says that in 1415, France’s imprisoned young Duke of Orleans was the first to send his wife valentines. They were rhymed love letters.

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Almost 600 years later, and more than 5,000 miles away, the times tend to be less desperate.

Still, the highly rated local French restaurants, according to the 2000 Zagat Survey, are readying for what Pamplemousse Grille owner and head chef Jeffrey Strauss calls “judgment day.”

“They’re aren’t our regulars who know us,” said Strauss, who serves California/New French cuisine at his restaurant. “These are all the people who come out to a restaurant like Some customers want a weekend celebration, and others still want dinners on the actual day, Proffitt said.

“It’s now become a four-day Valentine’s celebration,” he noted.

Service, cuisine and ambiance is what customers look for in choosing a Valentine’s site, Proffitt said.

“I think they’re just going to take a step up a little classier than they normally would, they’re willing to go that extra dollar to impress, and just celebrate their romance,” he said.

At El Bizcocho, the average meal costs $44, according to Zagat’s. For Valentine’s, the restaurant is charging $62 for a fixed menu, and $90 for the menu to include wines matched to the four courses, Proffitt said.

Pamplemousse is charging the same prices, at an average of $45-$50 per person, according to Strauss. At Mille Fleurs, where Zagat listed average price per person as $54, the menu is offered & #341; la carte. However, there are a number of options, such as lobster, caviar or foie gras, made of duck or goose liver, that are more expensive because of the ingredients and preparation, Niland said.

French Flair

“People typically feel the French know how to do romance,” she said. “I think people tend to lean toward that kind of cuisine or that kind of dining experience because they feel the French flair adds to the spirit of a romantic holiday.”

No matter what cuisine a restaurant serves, Feb. 14 is the one day of the year where most restaurants don’t need any type of marketing, Strauss said.

“It’s probably the busiest day for restaurants where you don’t need any kind of advertising,” Strauss said. The only exception would be if the restaurant is particularly dependent on tourist traffic and would need to get the word out, he added.

For Mille Fleurs, the marketing is also laid back. Niland sends a Valentine’s flier to the restaurant’s “house charge” customers with their regular billing.

“Put it this way,” Strauss said, “you want to advertise your restaurant, it’s good to have good advertising. But on Valentine’s Day, if we never advertised a day in our lives, we would be packed, sold out, one way or another.”

There’s also the details, Strauss said. At his restaurant this year, he’ll be giving couples the small rose bush plant that sits atop their tables during the meal.

Strauss laughed as he mentioned eschewing cut flowers for the plants because of their longer life expectancy , noting that his brother, William, owns and runs a local Internet flower company, Proflowers.com.

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