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Restaurants prepare for big night

Food of love: restaurants expect to be busy tonight

Bermuda restaurateurs’ hearts will be beating a little faster tonight — thanks to the patron saint of love.

For St Valentine’s Day is expected to provide a boost for the trade, with a total expenditure for the day on the island in excess of $1.5 million, according to a survey carried out for The Royal Gazette.

Philip Barnett, head of the Island Restaurant Group chain and also industry spokesman for the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s a big thing for the industry in what is usually a slow month.

“We’re always happy to have it, particularly when it falls on a week night.”

He added the night, which mostly involves couples dining, does present a challenge for restaurants.

Mr Barnett, whose IRG includes the upmarket Barracuda Grill and Victoria Grill in Hamilton, as well the more casual Pickled Onion and Hog Penny in the city and Dockyard’s Frog & Onion, said the more romantic settings tended to do more business.

He added: “People splurge for a better meal such as lobster or they’ll splurge on champagne and we try to make sure we’ve got special features on the various menus.

“Even so, it’s nice to save a few pennies and go to one of our other more value options.

“The bookings are solid — and if people are willing to be flexible on time, we’ll accommodate them. We’ll stay open for as long as people want to eat. We want to stimulate romantic interaction in our business.”

Costanzo Di Meglio, a partner in the Dining Bermuda chain and general manager of Blu, said the 130-capacity restaurant was sold out for the night, which will offer a romance-themed set menu.

He added: “St Valentine’s Day always makes a big difference — it’s usually two people, so we’re having a lot of tables for two and people do spend more than they would normally.

“It’s a great day for us to show ourselves off. A lot of people come for the first time and it’s a good opportunity for us to show the place off. It’s a great opportunity and that’s the difference for us.”

Emilio Barbieri, of sister restaurant Little Venice in Hamilton, said his restaurant’s bookings were also strong, with a special menu on offer as well.

He added: “We expect to be much busier for a Tuesday than we would normally be. St Valentine’s Day is always a must, which is good for the restaurant business — and no doubt florists as well.”

The survey, carried by Global Research, said total St Valentine’s Day expenditure in Bermuda was set to top $1.5 million.

The mean expenditure for those planning to celebrate in the annual day of love was $93 per person, with more than half those surveyed — 57 per cent — saying they were more likely to spend money on dinner than anything else.