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Source: Pat Pesci, 785-532-2210,
News release prepared by: Nellie Ryan, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009

Getting ready for Valentine's Day:

MANHATTAN -- The perfect Valentine's Day dinner is all about planning, and with the big day right around the corner, the planning should start now, according to Pat Pesci, head of Kansas State University hotel and restaurant management program.

Pesci, who also is a dining etiquette expert and known as K-State's "Mr. Manners," has some tips on making a Valentine's Day dinner special and romantic.

"When going out to eat for such a big occasion like Valentine's Day, you want to make it extra special," Pesci said. "You need to plan ahead and form a relationship with the restaurant. This will help you receive excellent service and make the whole experience more enjoyable."

One main reason why planning is so important is because dining choices become more limited as Valentine's Day approaches. When choosing a restaurant for a Valentine's Day dinner, Pesci suggests visiting the restaurant ahead of time, checking out the food and drink menus and getting to know the staff.

"Work very closely with the restaurant and start early," Pesci said. "Get to know the staff by name. They want to help you, and they want you to have a nice event. Choose a restaurant that has prices you can afford and food you know your date will love."

Another important aspect of a Valentine's Day dinner is wine. Pesci said that one way to impress your date is to know their favorite type of wine and have it waiting at the table when you are seated. This will show your date that you really made an effort to plan for this event, and it makes them feel special.

To create a romantic and personalized atmosphere, Pesci suggests to have flowers waiting at the table or even set out a framed picture of you and your significant other together.

"When making a dinner romantic, it's all about those little extra touches that can make your date feel special," Pesci said.

Want to impress your date at the end of the meal? Pesci suggests that you should pay the bill away from the table. He said to let the wait staff know that you will be paying the bill and for them not to bring the bill directly to the table.

"When you tell your date that the bill is already taken care of and they didn't even see you pay, it is really impressive," Pesci said. "That really adds class to an event like Valentine's Day."

Pesci also suggested calling the restaurant a few days before Valentine's Day to double-check your reservation and make sure all your requests are in order.

One problem with Valentine's Day is that it can be expensive, but Pesci offers several ways to make the day special on a budget. He suggests:

* Share your Valentine's Day with two or three other couples and have a progressive dinner. Pesci said you could start off at one couples' house for appetizers, then move on to the next couple's house for entrees and finally end at the last couple's home for dessert. "Sharing Valentine's Day with other couples can be really fun and it cuts a tremendous amount of cost," he said. "You can still have a romantic atmosphere with minimal costs."

* Have a pre- or post-event at your house with dinner in between. For example, you could start the night off with appetizers at your home then go to the restaurant for entrees. Or you could head to the restaurant first then end the night at home with dessert.

Whether you decide to do part of the dinner at home or have a full meal at a restaurant, planning can make all the difference for a successful romantic evening on Valentine's Day. Most restaurants are more than willing to help you prepare for this event, but planning early is the best way to ensure that the dinner runs the way you wan it to, Pesci said.