Rani Chaudhery expects her work to increase every Valentine's Day. The proprietor of Flowers By Rani (4238 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1238 in the Ballston Common Mall, 703-312-7264) said her work day will begin early on Wednesday, Feb. 14 and end "according to when the customers stop coming."
She's not alone. Across the floral, culinary and entertainment industries, Valentine's Day means preparing for a spike in business during what is typically just another weekday. It also means being prepared to offer deep discounts and extraordinary offers to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Chaudhery said there has been an interesting trend in her business this year: "There's actually been a lot more contemporary style than more traditional."
That means such innovative touches as colored wire wrapped around bouquets and lights placed inside the water of a vase that last up to 18 hours. "They're adding a lot of extras in the arrangements," she said. "With floral design, to be honest with you, the sky's the limit."
So literally thinking out of the box — as in those traditional rectangles with long-stemmed cargo — may be the way to go this Valentine's Day. Laura Dowling, an Alexandria floral designer, is experimenting with combining flowers with similarly colored candy treats in her creations this year. "It was kind of fun to take on these new design concepts. The whole idea was to use some flowers and things from the grocery store or craft store that people can do on their own," she said.
Dowling works in a traditional French style with a monochromatic color scheme and small, compact arrangements. One of her goals with this design was to create something beautiful that could be constructed on a budget by anyone for the holiday. "This time of year, the flower prices — especially rose prices — go through the roof. In general, a dozen roses is going to cost $70-90, but if you go to a place like Shopper's or Safeway you can get a bunch for under $10 and candy for $1 a bag," she said.
These arrangements can be constructed using a 4-inch square glass cube covered in foil to match the candy, which is attached to the vase with a hot glue gun. Place some floral foam inside the cube along with some flowers to match the color scheme.
More of Dowling's work can be seen on her Web site, www.lauradowling.com.
Local restaurants provide plenty of menu options — and a few surprises — on Valentine's Day.
La Tasca (2900 Wilson Blvd., 703-812-9120) features a special 3-course sharing menu that offers dessert and romantic music for $49 per person. Like some other eateries offering Valentine's specials not only on Wednesday but the following weekend, the tasting menu will be available for the rest of the week for a reduced price of $39.
Extra Virgin (4053 S. 28th Street, 703-998-8474, www.extravirginva.com) will offer a 4-course prix-fixe dinner for $49 per person with modern takes on traditional Italian Valentine's Day specialties. There will also be a la carte menu items, live entertainment from a four-piece variety and jazz band and special drinks available. Sette Bello (3101 Wilson Blvd., 703-351-1004, settebellorestaurant.com) has a 4-course prix fixe menu for $45 per person.
Chez Andrée (10 East Glebe Road, Alexandria, 703-836-1404,) is known for its country French Cuisine and charming decor. The restaurant is offering a Valentine's Day 3-course special for $45.95 per person. The Boulevard Woodgrill (2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-875-9663) is offering is full daily menu along with an array of specials geared for Valentine's Day.
Jaleo Crystal City (2250-A Crystal Drive, 703-413-8181, www.jaleo.com) will have a menu, inspired by Valentine's Day, of Spanish tapas ranging in price from $6.50-13.95. The menu will include adventurous choices like "Ostras con caviar" (raw oysters with caviar) and "Ensalada de bogavante con sanguinas" (lobster salad with blood oranges). The grand finale will be "Helado de chocolate con naranja y aceite de oliva" — or chocolate ice cream with orange and olive oil.
As with any holiday, check with your favorite local eatery to find out if there are any specials and if reservations are required.
Caribbean Breeze (4100 Fairfax Drive, 703-812-7997, www.caribbeanbreezeva.com) is offering some food and fun for Valentine's Day — and gearing it for couples and singles. At 8 p.m., there is a 3-course dinner for $99 per couple and $59 per single; at 10 p.m., there is a Latin salsa party for all in attendance. Owner Michael Cordero said the event is being promoted as a way to make some matches on Feb. 14 — perhaps some will come as singles, "and leave as couples," he said.
V-Day falls on a Wednesday this year, which means it's also the night Whitlow's (2854 Wilson Blvd., 703-276-9693, www.whitlows.com) holds its all-acoustic shows. Justin Trawick and Soulip and scheduled to perform beginning at 9:30 p.m.
IOTA Club & Cafe (2832 Wilson Blvd., 703-522-8340, www.iotaclubandcafe.com) offers an open mic night featuring Teresa Storch. This free event begins at 8 p.m.
Finally, what better way to explore the themes of romance than with Shakespeare? Firebelly Productions opens its production of Twelfth Night at Theatre on the Run (3700 South Four Mile Run) at 8 p.m. Tickets and additional information can be found on www.firebellyproductions.net.