NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

'Snow-pacalypse' put Valentine's Day on ice; 405 diningscape responds with Valentine's Week

The love between restaurateurs and Valentine's Day was all set to take the next step when Jack Frost blew into town to show off nipping skills as effective in the bud as at the nose on Cupid's big day.

With vaccinations on the rise and enough time to adapt to life with social distancing, this Valentine's Day had hearts aflutter.

“And then comes the snow-pacalypse,” said chef Kurt Fleischfresser of Vast and Western Concepts. “It’s been a really, really rough year for local restaurants.”

In response, Fleischfresser and a group of local, independent operators have determined the blizzard that crashed the pandemic that crashed the first signal of hope they've seen in a year doesn’t have to be a total loss.

“We’re gonna spread the love right through next week,” said chef Ryan Parrott of Humankind Hospitality.

Valentine’s Day is one of the two most important holidays of the year in the restaurant business, standing alongside New Year’s Eve. With the pandemic making it impossible to safely operate restaurants at full capacity, Valentine’s offered an opportunity to take reservations and fill restaurants as full as safely can be done. In other words, it was a rare occasion in the last year when restaurants were looking forward to operating in the black.

Parrott, whose group operates Picasso’s Café and Frida Southwest, said Valentine’s Day is always important, but this one held meaning it usually doesn't.

“This was the first weekend in a long time where it looked like we might have some sales to look forward to,” Parrott said. “Friday and Saturday actually weren’t too bad, but the cold temperatures definitely were a factor.”

Parrott said his company’s crowning achievement, Frida Southwest, has barely been open since he and his partners opened their doors in July of 2019.

“We had somebody run into a power pole after Christmas the first year, then the pandemic shut us down for three months, an ice storm in October that cost us two weeks,” he said. “We’ve only operated for like 12 of the 17 months since we opened.”

Fleischfresser and Parrott also agree the opportunity can’t be made up so much as it can be bandaged.

“I've always said you can't make up sales. You can’t get them back,” he explained. “Just because you're gonna go out to eat tonight, doesn't mean you're necessarily gonna go out to eat tomorrow or even next week. That moment’s gone. We never totally make up sales. And this year, in particular, it hurts a little more because we were really looking forward to this weekend because of 2020.”

Parrott said the roller-coaster ride has extended to staff, “Our employees are trying to get a sustainable income, and Valentine's Weekend felt like a turning point.”

Perhaps by extending the romance through this week, it will be.

More than 20 local restaurants have confirmed they will continue the love through this weekend. Check with your favorite restaurants for details about individual specials.

“We’ve got some cool stuff going on at Frida and Picasso’s,” Parrott sid. “We're doing a four-course vegan Valentine at Picasso’s. Chef Quinn (Carroll) is doing some surf and turf at Frida.”

Joining Humankind Hospitality will be Paseo Grill, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, Stella Modern Italian, Barrios Fine Mexican Dishes, Cheever’s Café, Iron Star Urban BBQ, Red Prime Steak, Republic Gastropub, Kitchen No. 324, La Baguette Bistro, Patrono, Italian Restaurant, The Hutch on Avondale, Aurora, Rococo, Bin 73, Parlor OKC, VZD’s/The Crown Room, Vast, Oso on Paseo, Sushi Neko, Musashi's, and both Mahogany locations.

Chef David Sullivan, of Castle Falls, reached out to say all his Valentine’s special will extend through Feb. 21. Chef Kevin Lee of The Jones Assembly is doing the same.

Parrott said most of the restaurateurs he’s reached out to are at least considering moving or extending their Valentine’s specials another week for another reason.

“Because I can only seat 50-percent of my capacity right now anyway, any chance we can take to book socially distanced reservations is an opportunity to show people the safety measures we’re taking until the pandemic is over.”

If a restaurant you’re curious about isn’t listed, check their website. We will update this list of participating restaurants as we confirm them, so check back here all week.

Related Photos
<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - " title=""><figcaption></figcaption></figure>
Dave Cathey

The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene. Read more ›