Planning a romantic night out with a dinner for two on Valentine’s Day certainly would appear to be a bit daunting in a time of social distancing and COVID restrictions.
Typically one of the busiest evenings for the restaurant industry, the holiday for lovers certainly will look different this year as dining rooms operate at a limited capacity because of the pandemic, if they are open at all.
But that’s not stifling efforts by local restaurants and others to provide patrons a memorable Valentine’s Day. Some are offering prix fixe meals to go, while others are filling up with reservations from couples seeking a fine dining experience.
Anthony’s at Spokane Falls is offering a three-course Valentine’s Day meal Friday-Sunday with an appetizer, choice of salmon, lobster, tenderloin filet or roasted scampi prawns and dessert. Meals start at $39 per person, but prices vary depending on entrée selection.
“We are expecting a pretty big turnout because people really want to get out and enjoy in-house dining,” said Inge Krippaehne-Kaiser, marketing director for Anthony’s Restaurants. “But it might look a little different than in the past.”
Reservations are recommended for in-house dining at Anthony’s because of limited capacity. The restaurant also is offering a to-go option for its three-course menu, which patrons can order online through Wednesday for pickup Valentine’s Day weekend, Krippaehne-Kaiser said.
Nationally, nearly 52% of people plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, spending a total of $21.8 billion, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
“There is no question the pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ daily interactions and activities,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “However, there remains a special significance around Valentine’s Day, and consumers are committed to celebrating friends and loved ones, even if that means having to alter those traditional holiday celebrations.”
Fewer than 24% of consumers are planning to spend money on an evening out on Valentine’s Day, the lowest percentage in the survey’s history. However, 41% of people indicated they will plan a special dinner or celebration at home, the National Retail Federation reported.
Locally, some are looking to serve those people where they are.
The Eat Good Group, headed by restaurateur Adam Hegsted, launched Valentine’s Day “heat and eat” meals crafted by award-winning chefs. The meals, which start at $95, include dinner for two with slow-roasted New York Strip, crab carbonara spaghetti, arugula salad and devil’s food cake.
“We’ve been trying (the meal kits) out for all special occasions. Obviously, catering isn’t doing any events right now, so this is a way to drum up a little business and produce a high quality meal for people,” Hegsted said. “It’s probably the fourth or fifth meal kit we’ve done. It will have some nice instructions, and is easy for people to heat up and it turns out really well. “
Hegsted, under the umbrella of Eat Good Group, owns Le Catering and several local restaurants, such as the Honey, Yards Bruncheon and Eat Good, all of which are offering a Valentine’s Day takeout special.
The Eat Good Group’s Valentine’s Day heat-and-eat meals are available to order through Wednesday at eatgoodgroup.com/heat-and-eat.
“We’re very appreciative of people getting delivery and takeout because that’s what’s keeping people working. It’s helping, although it’s still a tough time,” Hegsted said. “Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year that we aren’t able to be open, so any business (customers) are giving us is helping quite a bit.”
Meanwhile, the Spokane Symphony is partnering with Beacon Hill Catering and Events to provide a chef-prepared gourmet meal for two that costs $60 and comes with a 12-minute virtual musical serenade from the symphony’s concertmaster and lead violinist Mateusz Wolski and pianist Archie Chen.
Purchasers also have the option of adding a bottle of red or white wine from Barrister Winery.
The meals, which come ready to heat and serve, will be available for pickup at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox Sprague Avenue box office 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Orders must be placed by 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“It’s a really fun collaboration that helps us keep our doors open and supports the symphony as well,” said Ellie Aaro, co-owner of Beacon Hill Catering and Events.
The Valentine’s Day Dinner & Serenade package has been popular among couples this year, with more than 300 meals sold as of Tuesday.
“We are a little over halfway to being sold out. I think we have almost 300 folks that we’ll be feeding at this point, and we can go up to 600,” she said. “What better way to show your love to someone with a serenade and gourmet meal.”
Clinkerdagger is offering a four-course Valentine’s Day menu for $100 per person that comes with a choice of starters, appetizers, entrées – including grilled salmon, filet and prawns, and oven-roasted lobster tails – and dessert.
Reservations for indoor dining at Clinkerdagger are also filling up quickly for Valentine’s Day weekend, with just a few openings remaining for Friday, said Debi Moon, general manager of Clinkerdagger.
“When you can only do 25% capacity it fills up fast,” she said.
For those unable to secure reservations for indoor dining, the restaurant is offering its four-course Valentine’s Day special for takeout and curbside pickup, Moon said.
At Churchill’s Steakhouse in downtown Spokane, owner Bill Alles said Valentine’s Day is normally the second-busiest day of the year for the restaurant .
Because Churchill’s has temporarily closed indoor dining and is unable to operate under open-air dining guidelines, the restaurant launched a Valentine’s Day Surf & Turf to-go special that includes an 8-ounce prime filet and 8-ounce coldwater lobster tail for $49.50.
“We introduced it on Tuesday and, so far, we have sold around 150 of them, and we expect to sell between 400 to 500 between Friday and Sunday,” Alles said.
Latah Bistro is accepting orders via its website through Thursday for a sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberry package for $45.
In addition to its Valentine’s Day package, Latah Bistro is also accepting reservations for its dining globes and open-air dining in the bistro for Valentine’s Day weekend, owner Susan Readel said.
“We are doing everything humanly possible to stay safe and still have a little normalcy with a really fun exciting menu,” Readel said. “We are really happy for people to patronize our business in whatever way they’re comfortable with – whether it’s to go, in a (dining) globe or space in the dining room, we want people to have an amazing culinary dining experience.”
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