Restaurant owners cater to takeout demand for Valentine’s Day 2021

Boxed brunches, dinners and cocktails help add revenue as restaurants grapple with reduced capacity

robbie kane
Café Medina owner Robbie Kane has prepared Sunday brunch kits for takeout service this Valentine’s Day | Rob Kruyt

B.C. regulations that restrict restaurant capacity are prompting owners to focus as much on takeout service as on preparing romantic dine-in meals this Valentine’s Day. 

Most are operating their establishments at about 50% capacity, with many readying for potential last-minute changes to health orders that could throw a wrench into their ability to host dine-in customers. 

Despite a B.C. health order forbidding people who live in different households from eating together in restaurants, single people are allowed to include others as being in their household if those other people regularly interact with the single person. 

Regardless of regulations, many consumers are reluctant to risk dining in a restaurant, according to those in the industry. 

“A lot of people still aren’t that comfortable going out,” Café Medina owner Robbie Kane told BIV.

Like many hospitality entrepreneurs, Kane has crafted a takeout option for his brunch-focused eatery. 

Given that Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, he would have been expecting a packed restaurant. Instead, he is hoping that customers will want to buy his $125 brunch kits, or even better, to pay an extra $25 to have him include a bouquet of flowers in the package.

Restaurant owners catering to those who want evening meals have also shifted to include takeout offerings.

Homer Street Cafe, for example, is open for regular service, but it is also offering an $89 meal kit for a three-course, Valentine’s night dinner, said Robert Milheron, executive chef for the restaurant’s Wentworth Hospitality Group owner. 

“Everything’s been prepared, and it comes with instructions for you just to take home, put in your fridge and then reheat at your leisure,” Milheron said. 

Casual nighttime eateries are also offering takeout boxes with food and drinks. 

Juke Fried Chicken has found past success selling what its co-owner, Justin Tisdall, calls fried chicken bouquets.

“It looks like it’s a bouquet of flowers,” he told BIV. “We wrap it up in a conical shape with Valentine’s Day paper.”

His restaurant includes the adjoining Chickadee Room, which is known for its cocktails, and also has special takeout offers.

The venue regularly offers large drink kits, but the ones for Valentine’s Day are smaller and made for two people. 

The B.C. government’s temporary policy change, which allows restaurants to deliver alcohol with meals, is set to expire on March 31. Tisdall, and many other restaurant owners have told BIV that they would like this change to become permanent.