Valentine's Day Dining Trends

According to a new survey released by OpenTable , the world's leading provider of online restaurant reservations, restaurants are poised to be busy with diners celebrating love not only on Thursday, February 14, but on the weekend following Valentine's Day.  OpenTable diners also indicated that they plan to celebrate love in a big way with a projected check average of $139, which is 63% more than the typical OpenTable check average of $85 per couple.  The survey results also provided a peek into dating habits and trends related to the busiest holiday for dining out.

"The idea of a romantic Valentine's Day meal often conjures up images of lavish tasting menus, enchanting small plates, and prix fixe menus," said Caroline Potter, Chief Dining Officer of OpenTable. "However, our survey revealed some surprising insights into how people want to celebrate Valentine's Day and an indication of romantic trends to come. Diners prefer a la carte ordering in a classic three-course meal where they can personalize their experience."

Long Weekend of Love

51% of respondents said they plan to dine out on the Thursday, February 14, while 36% said they plan to celebrate Valentine's Day on Friday, February 15, or Saturday, February 16.

5% of diners said they plan to celebrate on Wednesday, February 13.

8% of respondents plan on dining out more than once for Valentine's Day (Casanova!)

Positive Reviews and Ambience Matter Most

Respondents indicated that the top three factors in selecting a restaurant for Valentine's Day are positive reviews (34%), romantic ambience (27 %) and service (16%).

Less important attributes included restaurant location (14%), special Valentine's Day menus (8%) and the quality of the wine list (1%).

Most Desirable Menus

When presented with menu options, diners said they prefer A la Carte (67%) over Prix Fixe (33%) menus.

Traditional menus came out on top with the majority of diners (56%) saying they would select a classic three-course meal (starter, entrée, and dessert).

Others preferred sharing several small plates (23%), feasting only on entrees (13%) or enjoying an extensive menu (8%).

Romance and Restaurants Go Hand in Hand

21% of diners said they would go on a first date on Valentine's Day, while 42% said that Valentine's Day dining is reserved for those dating for a month or two.

The remaining 37% of respondents think that dining on the most romantic day of the year should be reserved for those who have been dating at least 3 months.

Check, Please!

Put your phone away! 56% of women and 61% of men say talking and texting at the table is the biggest dining faux pas a date can commit.

Being rude to wait staff was the second biggest no-no for 32% of women and 28% of men.

For diners still searching for the right restaurant, OpenTable recently released the Diner's Choice List of the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the United States. Diners can also find more tips and trends regarding Valentine's Day on OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter 's "Dining Check" blog at OpenTable: