Valentine’s Day is a time of year when jewelry stores see a massive surge in customers, florists rush to fill rose bouquet orders, and restaurants cram to fit as many guests in as they possibly can.

For one night a year, restaurants across the country fill to the brim with couples (and the occasional single). Compared to other occasions and holidays, Valentine’s Day is the busiest night of the year for most eateries. So how do they prepare their kitchens and crew for so many hungry customers?

Starting early

For many restaurants, preparations for Valentine’s Day begin well before February even arrives.

Marketing initiatives take off shortly after the start of the new year to remind customers that going out to dinner is the thing to do on the 14th, and their restaurant is where you should make your reservations. Some eateries will even offer special deals or promotions, including suggestions that diners make their plans for the days surrounding Valentine’s Day for a better chance at a stress-free romantic meal.

Additionally, restaurants may offer discounts on gift cards purchased for the holiday to keep customers coming back even after the holiday hullabaloo has settled.

Marcha Tapas Bar

Before the big day arrives, some restaurants give their staff some special training just for the holiday.

At more upscale eateries, the staff may be instructed to give special attention to guests so that they feel like there’s a personal connection between themselves and their server.

Another bit of extra training that can go a long way on Valentine’s Day is wine pairings.

Many high-class restaurants have a sommelier on staff to offer wine consultation to diners or have their waitstaff informed on what wines pair with what foods. On Valentine’s Day, other dining establishments that might not otherwise offer wine pairings may be able to make suggestions on what to drink with what you eat to get your special evening off to a good start.

Making the evening memorable

After all the preparations have been made, restaurants make sure that Valentine’s Day dinners are unforgettable. Some places may go so far as to offer the ladies a rose at the end of their meal, but more commonly, the changes are on the subtler side.

For the holiday, certain restaurants may choose to offer a prix fixe menu where couples can order a pre-selected multi-course meal for a fixed price instead of ordering appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

Whether you order one of these holiday menu meals or a traditional dish off the regular menu, you can expect the presentation to be flawless. Restaurants want to impress their customers on their busiest night, so they will go out of their way to make sure that your appetizer, dinner, and dessert all look fit for a food magazine.

The staff is there to make sure that whatever you need during your meal is taken care of quickly and politely. For the countless couples who pop the question on Valentine’s Day, that service includes whatever sneaky trick might be needed to hide the ring (and any complimentary congratulations that may follow).

When you reach the end of your meal, after the wine pairing, the perfectly-plated food, and the spectacular shareable dessert, many restaurants want to make sure that your last impression of them is a pleasant one. Leaving dinner on a positive note will make sure that couples have the perfect start to whatever comes next in their evening and improve the chances they’ll return to dine again next year.

Depending on where you go, your check might come with a final gift: Flowers, chocolate, or a touch of champagne.

All of this planning and hospitality ultimately comes down to this: Couples out on dinner dates for Valentine’s Day should have the best experience possible. No exceptions.