The Benefits of a Prix Fixe Menu for Valentine’s Day

Increase profits and efficiency and attract new customers with the right set menu.
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A prix fixe menu for Valentine's Day is a popular option for restaurants to handle the high demand in traffic. (Photo: Lucky Business/Shutterstock)

For restaurant owners, it’s not too early to starting planning for one of the biggest dining-out holidays of the year: Valentine’s Day. Especially for fine dining establishments, it’s a big day for raking in profits.

At many restaurants, this holiday is the perfect time to roll out a special prix fixe menu that includes a few courses and dessert for a set price. Some restaurants offer a choice of dishes for each course.

Prix fixe menus are not only attractive to guests, they can improve efficiency, save money and cut down on waste. Two top New York City restaurant owners shared how they use them to their advantage.

Related: Chef-Owners Share the Advice They Never Forgot

Better handle the demand

Spiro Menegatos, owner of Nerai, an haute Greek restaurant, said for many restaurants, including his, there isn’t any deliberation about whether to offer a prix fixe menu: It’s essential for handling the extra foot traffic.

“They enable service to be much quicker because the kitchen knows exactly what to expect,” Menegatos said.

Bagatelle, a French bistro, offers a prix fixe menu in addition to its usual a la carte menu. Founder and co-owner Remi Laba said prix fixe menus save time and money when it comes to labor and preparing ingredients, which is why Bagatelle occasionally offers prix fixe menus for lunch at other times of the year.

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As a restaurant owner, planning menus in advance can help you bargain with vendors to get ingredients at the lowest prices. (Photo: Bagatelle)

Keep money in everyone’s pockets

Prix fixe menus often save money because they’re inherently efficient and can be optimized to improve profit margins.

When chefs know they’ll have larger volumes to order and the menu is planned well in advance, they can bargain with vendors for lower costs on prime ingredients, Menegatos noted. Chefs also don’t usually have to order as many ingredients because these menus are typically smaller than everyday menus.

One way to drive down costs further, said Menegatos, is to build the menus around cheaper seasonal ingredients.

Laba said restaurants can create a set offering that has a higher profit margin and also include optional items, such as lobster tails and truffle shavings, to increase check totals. “You can offer a few dishes that would require an add-on in price to feature a more upscale, costly product,” he said. “And it’s always nice to offer wine pairings.”

Because prix fixe prices allow your restaurant to negotiate ingredient costs and plan menus that are less wasteful, your restaurant can pass some cost savings onto customers.

“A successful prix fixe menu is one that offers an attractive price, offers generous portions, allows for consumer favorites and brings added value,” Laba said.

Get the word out

Planning your menu well in advance gives you time to get the word out to customers.

Menegatos recommended finalizing the menu at least 30 days in advance so you can post announcements on your social media channels and website and even reach out to the local press.

Laba noted restaurants should send information to their email lists to reach people who have come to the restaurant before.

Valentine's Day

Many customers searching for a deal will prefer a menu with a set price. (Photo: Nerai)

Showcase your restaurant

By offering a set menu, your restaurant may even attract cost-conscious customers who may not have visited your restaurant before. They may see set menus as a deal.

Laba said Bagatelle’s prix fixe menus are designed to win over new diners and make them want to come in again.

“One thing that is always key for us is to not only give great value to the consumer but also make sure we highlight a few signature dishes whenever possible so that they understand our culinary profile,” he said.

And of course, restaurants typically put romance on the menu.

“Since Valentine’s Day is a special moment in a couple’s life, the menu allows us to do a few food items reminiscent of the occasion,” Laba said. “We can highlight special flavors and pairings or even showcase dishes to share that inspire romance.”

In other words, adding a prix fixe menu can help your restaurant stand out from the competition and create the perfect night out for your customers.

Related: What Vegetarians Want to See on Your Menu

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