Many couples scramble in search of the perfect present to symbolize their love for Valentine's Day.
Those in the restaurant business, however, know just how hectic Valentine's Day can be. It is the third-most popular occasion to dine out, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Suitors who choose to wine and dine their significant others Thursday will find a number of choices throughout Columbia County.
Stacie Hart, who owns Bailey's Deli and Fine Catering in downtown Harlem, said she is offering a four-course Valentine's Day dinner special Thursday evening for $58.49 per couple. Reservations are required.
The featured meal includes crab imperial, soup and salad, sweet sea scallops with filet mignon and chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
The restaurant's regular menu still will be available.
This is Hart's first Valentine's Day at the restaurant, which once was BG's Deli and Fine Catering.
"I just bought this restaurant last summer," she said, "and in past Valentine's, they were slammed."
Hart said patrons should call the restaurant as soon as possible to arrange reservations.
Luciana's Taste of Italy, at 362 Furys Ferry Road in Martinez, also is accepting reservations for Thursday.
The restaurant's special includes two entrees and two desserts for $34.99.
Luciana's also underwent a name and ownership change recently. The Italian restaurant once was named Mimmo's Taste of Italy.
"The previous owner said that we were really packed," manager Mike Consiglil said.
Cadwallader's Cafe, at 106 Davis Road in Martinez, will offer its regular menu but will feature at least one new dessert Thursday and through the weekend.
The main dessert is called Velvet Decadence, which is a slice of red velvet molten cake for $6.99, paired with a Pinot Noir Port wine for $8.99 per glass, said manager Amy Rennick.
Rennick said they are not accepting reservations and expects the restaurant to stay busy.
"It's right up there with New Year's Eve," she said.
Joe Beck, the owner of The French Market Grille West, at 368 Furys Ferry Road in Martinez, said he will run the regular menu Thursday and won't offer a couples special as he has done in the past.
Beck said he would probably offer specials on a 1-pound lobster tail, an 18-ounce bone-in ribeye steak, a Cajun cordon bleu and dessert, but he had not decided on prices.
The French Cajun restaurant is not taking reservations and begins serving dinner at 4 p.m.
Beck said he expects to be busiest from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"It's first come, first served," he said.
The Garlic Clove Italian Eatery, at 4461 Washington Road in Evans, is accepting reservations, and owner Jeff Freehof said he expects the restaurant to keep busy on Valentine's Day.
Freehof said he is not changing the regular menu but will probably offer a couple of feature entrees.
"We're adding candles and a flower on each table just to make it a little bit nicer and just to add a little ambience," he said.
Those who want a sweet treat after dinner can indulge in an edible box of chocolates.
La Bonbonniere, 231 Furys Ferry Road, Martinez, specializes in handmade Belgian chocolates.
Sales manager Helene Hondrum said that on Valentine's Day, many customers purchase the chocolate heart boxes that contain miniature chocolates inside. Nearly every chocolate is made from authentic Belgian recipes, she said.
A small heart box costs $10 and contains about seven pieces of chocolate; the medium-size box costs $18 and contains roughly 14 pieces; the largest heart box costs $40 and contains about 35 pieces.
Hondrum and the store's owner, Bebette Smith, said that on last Valentine's Day, customers waited in line for about an hour to purchase the chocolate delicacies.
Both women said that customers' best bet is to place an order before Valentine's Day.
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