How do Baton Rouge restaurants prepare for the Valentine’s Day rush?

Like every city, Baton Rouge has a huge turnout for Valentine’s Day. It often feels like everyone is on their way to a reservation that night—and you can bet they made it weeks in advance.

How do restaurants prepare for the influx of diners? In the latest episode of Between the Lines, 225 investigated.

In order to better serve the crowds, Portobello’s Grill limits its Valentine’s menu, says Peter Sclafani, CEO of Making Raving Fans Hospitality Group.

“When you go from 150 to 300 people, that’s doubling that business on a Wednesday. That’s a lot for a restaurant,” he says. “So we came up with a limited menu—a prefixed menu. By limiting the number of choices, you can vastly improve how many people you serve.”

A tightly curated menu also means Sclafani has more time to focus on things like entertainment. He’s hosting Ned Fascullo, whose Dean Martin-esque singing and piano music will fill the restaurant’s Valentine’s night.

But with Feb. 14 reservations already booked up, Sclafani doesn’t want people to miss the opportunity to get the full Valentine’s experience.

“With Valentine’s being on a Wednesday, it’s kind of a weird day. It’s in the middle of the week, and if you have kids or something, maybe you can’t get out,” Sclafani says. “So, we’re also doing the same menu and entertainment on Saturday.”

Tin Roof Brewing Co.

Tin Roof Brewing Co. doesn’t want another group to miss out on Valentine’s, either: singles. The week before the holiday, Tin Roof hosted “Singled Out Speed Dating Night,” a night of speed dating and drinks. Tin Roof Brewing Co. Marketing Manager Mandy Underwood has helped organize the recurring event for three years.

“Baton Rouge is a very couples- and family-focused town outside of LSU,” Underwood says. “It seemed like there wasn’t a whole lot of marketing and events geared toward the single community. It’s more just giving single people a place to network and meet each other and see if they make a connection without the guesswork.”

Singles enjoyed a night of local beers and chatting over 2-minute dates in Tin Roof’s tap room. Every table had a number, chocolates and icebreakers.

Jubans’ Hallelujah Crab

Over at Jubans on Perkins Road, the restaurant kicked off the holiday week with a celebration of a different kind of love: familial. Its Daddy-Daughter Dinner was held Monday, Feb 12.

And when it comes to Valentine’s Day itself, General Manager Justin Olivier says families and couples have been making reservations since December. Since reservations are so full, Jubans has to make space. It plans to open up side rooms and convert bigger tables to couples tables.

As for the food, Baton Rougeans already know Jubans for its upscale Louisiana cuisine and atmosphere. That’s why Jubans’ approach is focusing on what it’s known best for, Olivier says.

“People come in for a certain thing. If we’re not offering what they normally would get … it doesn’t really give them the same experience that we want them to have,” Olivier says. “We just do what we do day in and day out that we know we can execute as opposed to creating a special new menu.”

Watch 225‘s Between the Lines series for more.