NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day Eve and restaurants throughout the state want to help you celebrate the holiday.

The pandemic is still making it a challenge for restaurants to thrive which makes holidays like Valentine’s Day even more important for local businesses.

Restaurant owners were hoping to see an uptick in customers over the weekend, on Valentine’s Day and the upcoming weekend, as the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year.

Restaurant owners prefer when Valentine’s Day falls on an “off” day, like a weeknight, as it brings in more customers on their less popular nights.

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“You’ll get some people who do it on the weekend because that’s what fits their schedule. But then, a Tuesday night turns into a fantastic night that it would not normally have been. We did see a significant crowd Saturday night,” said Todd Stigliano, Director of Business Operations at Café Aura and The Hollow.

Unfortunately, Stigliano said, with the Super Bowl falling where it did, restaurants may have lost out on what would have been another busy night two days before Valentine’s Day.

Stigliano said restaurants are also facing new obstacles with rising costs and the threat of a recession.

“Talking about the worker shortage and we’re still about 20,000 jobs short of February 2020 levels. You talk about the supply chain issues, the cost of goods with inflation. Everyone’s feeling it in their own pocket at home. Our restaurateurs are,” said Scott Dolch, President and CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.

Dolch said the reality is that we have seen four landmarks restaurants close in the Hartford area alone.
Connecticut is number one in the country in independently owned full-service restaurants, according to Dolch.

97% of Connecticut’s full-service restaurants are independently owned, the category that has been hurt the most across the nation, Dolch said.