Peter Blackman had welcome news for one of his servers last week.
“I told them they could have Valentine’s Day off,” the co-owner of Aperitivo Bistro recalled. “They were so relieved. But then they said, ‘I might go out to dinner that night,’ and I was like, ‘Why on earth would you do that?’ ”
Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest nights of the year for restaurateurs like Blackman. This year, it falls on a Friday, providing a spike in business for an already busy night at local restaurants. But if restaurateurs and the florists had their way, they would have you celebrate the popular February holiday early in the week — when business is slower for restaurants and a delivery of flowers to loved ones is an easy gift on a busy workday.
“We prefer it on a Tuesday,” said Blackman. “The reality is that any day of the week is fine. Valentine’s Day is a growing
holiday that guarantees big business. But when it’s on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, it forces people to come out midweek on a night that generally they are not going out. Friday is one of the toughest days because, generally, we’re busy anyway.”
Two days before Valentine’s Day, Aperitivo Bistro was booked solid for Friday dinner until 9:30 p.m. While the holiday is typically a one-day affair, because it falling on a Friday this year, Blackman said he has noticed some customers planning to celebrate all weekend, reserving dinners for two on Saturday and Sunday night, as well.
The Friday holiday might not be all bad this year. Presidents Day falls on Monday, so restaurants are preparing for a busier-than-usual Sunday night crowd.
Margie Schulz, general manager of the Raindancer Restaurant in Amsterdam, said Valentine’s Day on a Friday isn’t all bad. People are making reservations for later in the evening than they normally would.
“It will be busier than normal because we’ll have more hours to deal with,” she said. “During the week, when people have to go to work the next day, they still choose to go out for Valentine’s Day but you don’t get that late crowd. So this year we’re getting reservations for 9 and 9:30 p.m.”
Still, if she had her druthers, the holiday would be on a weekday. Friday might not be the weekend, technically, but many people treat it like it is.
Pat Popolizio, owner of the Waters Edge Lighthouse Restaurant in Glenville, agreed.
“I like Valentine’s Day on a Tuesday,” he said.
Surprisingly, most restaurants said they would prefer the holiday on a Tuesday, even though it’s not always the slowest day of the week. Monday usually takes that prize, but a slow Monday is a nice rest from the busy weekend shifts, and by Tuesday, restaurants are raring to pick things up again.
Popolizio suspects this Friday will be busier than previous Valentine’s Days.
“Being the last day of the week, people aren’t going to work the next day, it’s probably going to be busier than a usual Valentine’s Day,” he said. “People are more likely to want to celebrate this year and have a good time out.”
While business is crazy at Dehn’s Flowers & Greenhouses this week, the Saratoga Springs shop would also prefer the holiday fall earlier in the week.
“On a Friday, men have a tendency to want to spend their money on dinner rather than flowers,” said Lynn Straight, manager of Dehn’s. “When it’s on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, they’re at work and it seems like a really good idea to them to send flowers those days.”
Orders have been filtering in for the past week and a half at Dehn’s. On a normal day, the shop employs one full-time and one part-time delivery driver. On Valentine’s Day this year, the shop will have eight drivers out and about, delivering flowers from sun up through sun down, Straight said.
“Valentine’s Day itself is our busiest day of the year,” she said. “It’s a big phone day and a big walk-in day. And yes, it’s mostly men.”
The same goes for Felthousen’s Florist & Greenhouse in Niskayuna. The family-owned shop has been fielding orders all week, over the phone and via the Internet.
“Friday is going to be our single busiest delivery day of the year,” said shop owner Mark Felthousen. “Other holidays can still be bigger, though, because they’re spread out a little bit more, like Christmas and Mother’s Day.”