By Gabriel Monte and Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writers
After enduring months of area residents cutting back on the extras, Dakota’s Steakhouse owner Jim Clark is expecting couples to use Valentine’s Day as a reason to go out and celebrate.
He’s not alone.
Clark said Valentine’s Day was the busiest day of the year for the restaurant last year. He’s expecting big things this year.
“Because of the economy, people have been holding back. Hopefully it’s brighter around the corner and Valentine’s Day is a reason for them, more so than normal, to go out and celebrate with their sweetheart,” he said.
Clark said the restaurant is gearing up for double the normal Saturday business with extra food preparation and more staff on the floor and in the kitchen.
Roden-Smith Village owner Bruce Gray said the Valentine’s Day business will be slower for the store this year, but mainly because Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday.
“We’ll see deliveries probably Friday because offices aren’t open on Saturdays and then we’ll see some deliveries on Saturdays for those certain businesses that remain open,” he said. “When Valentine’s Day hits on a weekday, we’re swamped from open to close. It’ll be split up this year.”
Gray said orders for deliveries are down slightly this year, but he’s expecting a large number of walk-ins on Saturday.
“A lot of people are thinking why pay a delivery fee when you can just walk in,” he said.
Katie’s Flowerland owner Rose Riley said she’s been busy restocking her supplies of balloons and flowers. Hundreds of flowers in different arrangements sit in a cold storage marked for delivery on Valentine’s Day.
Riley said it business as usual at her flower shop where she sells flowers, balloons, stuffed animals and candies for Valentine’s Day.
“I tried very hard to keep a price range for everyone,” she said. “Regardless of the economy, everybody can afford a flower.”
However, Riley said she cut back on certain flowers including daises, snap dragons and tulips because she wanted to stock up on pricier flowers.
“I feel real comfortable with what we’ve done,” she said.
By late Thursday the shop has taken more than 200 delivery orders for Valentine’s Day. Last year they made 500 deliveries.
“(Today) will be our big day,” she said.