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February 7, 2018

Maine Food Insider: Mainers don't necessarily love eating out on Valentine's Day

Photo / Renee Cordes
Photo / Renee Cordes
A Valentine's Day reminder is on display at Maine College of Art on Congress Street in Portland. In a surprising report from Womply, a company that uses analytics to help small businesses attract and engage customers, Valentine's Day isn't the most popular restaurant day in Maine. It's not even in the top 10. Or the top 100.

Making plans for next week's Valentine's Day "holiday"? Or not?

Take a breath, the pressure is off.

Valentine's Day isn't the most popular restaurant day in Maine, according to a report from Womply, a company that helps small businesses attract and engage customers. It's not even in the top 10. Or the top 100.

Feb. 14 is the 130th-best sales day of the year for Maine restaurants, Womply's report says. Perhaps it's not surprising, given that many restaurants in Maine gear their business toward the summer.

If you do go out, the Womply's breakdown of the stats for Maine restaurants shows there's a 1% decrease in transaction volume on Valentine's Day but a 12% lift in revenue compared to an average day. In other words, while fewer people eat out that night, they're spending more money in the name of love.

Womply's "state of restaurants report" analyzed transactions at small independent restaurants in all 50 states, including Maine, for every day of the 2017 calendar year.

In 2016, restaurant revenue in Maine reached $2.6 billion, according to the Maine Restaurant Association, citing statistics from the Maine Revenue Services. The hospitality sector, which includes the lodging industry that reported $950 million in revenue in 2016, created 77,000 jobs last year and generated $300 million in sales tax, it added.

So what is the best sales day of the year for Maine restaurants?

Mother's Day, when there's a 36% increase in transaction volume of an average restaurant day in Maine and an 81% increase in total sales.

On average, Maine's restaurants make $44,000 per month in sales revenue, ranking the state 22nd among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Maine restaurants earn 54% of their revenue between Friday and Sunday.

The average Maine restaurant sees 36 transactions per day at an average of $39.44.

Mainers are less likely to visit a restaurant on Valentine's Day than the average American — nationally it ranks 107th, with an 18% increase in revenue and 4% increase in transaction volume on Valentine's Day.

Who sets the standard for showing love by eating out? Texans. The Lone Star State has a 34% bump in revenue on that day. Other high ranking states include, Florida (30% increase), Louisiana (30% increase) and Oklahoma (32% increase).

Pies warm hearts, homes in Rockland area

Photo / Marti Mayne
Photo / Marti Mayne
Pies at Rockland's LimeRock Inn await the annual Pies on Parade Tour in Rockland on Jan. 28. The event raise $25,870 this year for the Area Interfaith Food Pantry and Fuel Assistance Program.

The 14th annual Pies on Parade Pie Tour raised $25,870 for the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry and Food Assistance program in the Rockland area. The Mainebiz Food Insider reported last week organizers Historic Inns of Rockland were confident they would meet their $25,000 goal.

The figure represents all ticket sales, silent auction, cash donations and Camden Scavenger/Trivia Hunt proceeds from this year's event, which was on Jan. 17-28.

Total donations in the 14 years since the event began are $185,923 after this year's event.

The tour sold out all 650 tickets before the event, indicating the "pie passion" of those living and visiting Rockland on a January Sunday, organizers said.

More than 55 varieties of pies were baked and an estimated 14,000 pieces of pie were consumed by tour-goers. Seventy-five lodging properties, restaurants and businesses from Rockland and Camden collectively donated more than 800 hours of time and thousands of dollars in products and services to ensure a sizable donation could be made to the food pantry once again this year, organizers said.

In addition to pie-making, many donated gift certificates, gifts, artworks, overnight stays and other items to the silent auction and Camden scavenger/trivia hunt from businesses throughout the Midcoast, raising well over $2,000 toward the total donation. Maritime Energy matched the $2,000 raised from cash donations dropped into the oil can-collection jars and the special events during the pie tour. More than 50 AIO Food Pantry volunteers were on hand to help on Pie Day as well.

"The community spirit embraced by Midcoast businesses to help those in need was remarkable this year as it has been in the past," said P.J. Walter, co-owner of the LIme Rock Inn.

"With need for food and oil at an all-time high, especially in the winter, we're happy that pies could once again translate to nourishment and heat for needy Midcoast families," said Joan Hantz, Historic Inns of Rockland member and co-owner of the Granite Inn.

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