Valentine’s Day is both a day to look forward to and a day to dread (as a restaurant manager, that is).

Yes, more diners mean more income–which is always a good thing. But it also means more stress for your team as you try to deal with the Valentine’s Day dinner rush. If the customer has a bad night because your team can’t get it together, you’re not just ruining a meal. You’re affecting their memories of a very special day. 

That’s a lot of pressure! Fortunately, we’ve got some tips to help you handle it with grace. 

Create a Valentine’s Day Restaurant Menu With Care

It’s great marketing to create a special Valentine’s Day course or menu and share it on social media. It’s just the thing to draw in more customers, and you should absolutely try it if you can. 

Just make sure that when you do, you’re mindful of what your kitchen will look like that Valentine’s evening when you have to create a dozen of them all at once. A la minute dishes that require lots of preparation and care will slow your kitchen down considerably, especially if you don’t have enough equipment to handle multiple orders. 

Try creating a Valentine’s Day menu that can be prepared in batches, or can be prepared swiftly with minimal plating time. Do as much food prep as you can to make it the actual Valentine’s Day dinner service easier. Your staff will thank you for it! 

Fix Your Back of House Equipment Ahead of Time

There’s nothing more stressful than fighting through a rush service only for a critical appliance to break at the worst possible time. 

Don’t let this happen to you! Put every single appliance and major equipment through a maintenance and cleaning cycle a few days before Valentine’s Day, so you have time to order more parts or a replacement if needed. Do this for any software you have, too, like your POS, your scheduling app, or any back-of-house order management systems. 

A little advance maintenance will go a long way!

Schedule Restaurant Staff Well in Advance

Valentine’s Day is a special occasion, and you should staff accordingly. Don’t rely on your usual Thursday crew to get it done–especially if the Thursday crew is short-handed, new or troublesome. Bring your most experienced people in and make sure you get commitments from them that they will actually show up!

If you have any special meals planned for that evening, make sure the Valentine’s crew is already familiar with the evening’s menu and, ideally, practiced preparing it. Make sure each member of the team knows their roles for the evening and has cross-trained with different roles or stations. 

Don’t Let the Valentine’s Day Dinner Rush Affect Your Temper

Things are going to get frantic, but don’t get frustrated or furious. You are setting the mood for the team, so keeping calm will help the rest of your team keep it together as well. 

If there is a problem, communicate effectively to figure out where the breakdown is. Fix it and move on. You can always review the problem in more detail when tempers have calmed down. You’re there to provide a positive experience for guests, and a hot-headed restaurant kitchen is eventually going to boil over to affect the guests. 

In Summary

Emotions are sure to run high during the Valentine’s Day dinner rush, but it’s up to you whether those emotions are going to be love and romance, or anger and frustration. 

Preparation and planning will go a long way towards giving your guests a pleasant evening of romantic memories and giving your staff a sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done.