Dallas Restaurants Feel the Sting of Losing Valentine's Day and Fat Tuesday

Heartbreaking chocolate at CocoAndre.
Heartbreaking chocolate at CocoAndre.
photo by Adriana Herrera, courtesy of CocoAndre Chocolatier
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CocoAndre, the family-owned chocolate shop in the Bishop Arts District, has been open for business only eight days this month. COVID forced them to close the last week of January, so they set their sights on every chocolatier's busiest day, Feb. 14, to help pull them through the winter.

"Then we had to close for snow," co-owner Cindy Pedraza said this week. "We had to cancel some of our custom orders for Valentine’s Day. It's one of our biggest moneymakers, and closing really affected us."

Pedraza is trying to make up the lost business with online classes and still has Valentine's kits available to purchase. They're also offering 20% off all their from-scratch, hand-made confections in what has to be a tough hit to take right now.

In Uptown, Bisous Bisous Patisserie felt that same sense of defeat when Valentine's Day turned into a weather nightmare.

"We'd been preparing for our biggest Valentine's Day ever, and we missed all of our sales projections by double-digit percentages," owner and executive pastry chef Andrea Meyer says.

They benefited from some pre-orders and Saturday pickups before the weather got too dangerous, but missing Sunday's sales and scrambling to reschedule or cancel orders for the day was "painful."

On Jan. 26, the National Restaurant Association released its 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, a full measure of the financial impact of the pandemic. Obviously, the news isn’t worthy of that nice bottle of Champagne you’ve been holding on to.

Collectively, foodservice and restaurant sales fell by $240 billion in 2020 and as of Dec. 1. More than 110,000 establishments closed either temporarily or for good. Nearly 2.5 million jobs were lost in the industry in just one year.

The report pointed out that restaurants were hit harder than any other industry during the pandemic and still have the longest climb back to pre-coronavirus employment levels. Surprisingly, the majority of restaurants closed were “well-established businesses and fixtures in their communities.” They were small family-owned spots, potentially lacking the safety net of corporate backing.

Hudson Riehle with the restaurant association told CBS recently that Valentine’s Day is traditionally the second-busiest day of the year for the restaurant industry. Instead of filling up counters with to-go bags and shuffling socially distanced couples through dining rooms, many not only lost that business but may have incurred extra expenses from spoilage, burst pipes and other effects of the winter storm.

Muffuletta at The Free ManEXPAND
Muffuletta at The Free Man
Lauren Drewes Daniels

So, it’s upon us to call some do-overs and show some love to our locally owned spots. And in terms of Valentine's Day, if you’re still with your loved one after the past year, you’re rock solid. That alone is reason to celebrate. Go all out on the most Hallmark-ish day of the year. Kristina Rowe put together this list of restaurants that really put their hips into it.

For Fat Tuesday redos, local Cajun restaurants like The Free Man and Fish City Grill have moved Mardi Gras celebrations to this Tuesday, Feb. 23. The Free Man will have their parade through Deep Ellum, Fat Tuesday Redo: The #Dallaska Edition, starting at 6 p.m.

Bucky Moonshines had their Fat Tuesday last Saturday, but have you seen their crawfish enchiladas? You should. Those are good any day.

Also, we'd be remiss to skip quickly over National Margarita Day, which was Monday, Feb.22. We talked about this a little here, but honestly, we didn’t have adequate time to prep or imbibe, as so many are still trying to find footing after the thaw. So, we’re calling a do-over here also. Have salt and ice on your terms! 

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