Restaurants, seafood suppliers hoping Valentine’s Day gives them a boost

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 24 percent of Americans plan to dine out for the Valentine’s Day holiday, and they will spend USD 32 (EUR 26) less on gifts per person on average, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

However, 41 percent say they are planning a special dinner or celebration at home, and a majority still believe it is important to celebrate the holiday – especially due to the pandemic, NRF reports.

Sysco Senior Director of Culinary Development Neil Doherty told SeafoodSource restaurants and seafood sellers can overcome the special challenges this year – facing both brick-and-mortar and online operators – with a little creativity.

“Valentine’s Day has always been one of the most popular days to dine out and with varying restrictions that are currently in place, it makes sense for restaurants to offer gourmet meals to go,” Doherty told SeafoodSource.

Doherty suggested foodservice establishments consider offering luxurious dishes such as lobster tails, lobster meat over pasta, king crab, shrimp dishes, haddock, cod, swordfish, and salmon. Considering the difficulties that take-out presents, Doherty said sauce-based dishes, such Thai curries, étouffée, bouillabaisse, or gumbo, travel well.

Desserts are also an important component of maximizing Valentine’s Day take-out sales, Doherty said

“Bundle these gourmet [seafood] dishes with favorites such as chocolates, cheesecakes or deep-dish pies in flavors such as key lime, apple, and pecan,” he said.

Some larger foodservice brands have initiated national-level seafood-themed promotions. Bloomin’ Brands’ Bonefish Grill is promoting its Valentine’s Day meal specials for dine or take-out from early February through 15 February. Specials include Filet & Lobster and Risotto del Mar. And catering to consumers spending the holiday at home, online culinary site Goldbelly is offering a Blue Ribbon Sushi Kit for USD 129 (EUR 106) each. Couples can assemble four to five rolls of sushi with grade “A” tea, Norwegian salmon, Japanese Hamachi, and ebi shrimp, reported.

Online seafood sellers are also hoping to capitalize on Valentine’s Day, using utilizing social media to boost their promotional offers.

“We love using Instagram to help our customers learn more about who we are and what our values are as a company,” The Caviar Co. Founder Petra Bergstein told SeafoodSource.

On 14 February, the supplier is hosting a virtual Valentine’s Day caviar tasting on Instagram, spotlighting a USD 140 (EUR 115) package that includes hackleback, classic white sturgeon, Russian osetra caviars served with mother of pearl spoons, gourmet French cocktail blini, and Vermont Creamery crème fraîche delivered in a signature gift box. Purchasers will be “walked through each caviar by the brand’s expert team,” the company said.

“Valentine's Day is a big holiday for caviar. Usually, our restaurant sales significantly increase for Valentine's Day, but with [fewer] people eating out, our retail and online stores have been really busy,” Bergstein said. “The virtual tastings have helped boost our sales and – more importantly – our morale by connecting us with people all over the country.”

Despite the heavy emphasis on at-home dining this year, restaurants offeringing an indoor dining experience can still be successful this holiday, according to Doherty.

“Many diners will still seek a fun diversion and to share a different dining experience,” he said.

Tables for two will be popular, and restaurants should plan accordingly by ensuring adequate space for social distancing to the maximum extent possible, Doherty said.

“Couples may find that a socially-distanced space helps promote a more intimate atmosphere on this special day,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Sysco


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