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Here's to the Ladies! NYC Restaurants and Galentine's Day

LUCY GRINDON, HOST: Monday is Valentine’s Day, as every store—or your partner—will remind you. But lesser-known is the day before Valentine’s Day. Some call it Galentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day was invented on the sitcom Parks and Recreation. The character Leslie Knope says it’s an occasion for, quote: “ladies celebrating ladies.” There are dozens of Galentine’s Day events happening in the city this weekend. There’s a Galentine’s Day cruise, a Galentine’s Day kickboxing party, and even a Galentine’s day bottomless drag brunch! Joining me now is Lynn Minnaert. She’s the academic director at the Tisch Center of Hospitality at NYU, and she’s worked with lots of restaurateurs.

LUCY GRINDON, BYLINE: Professor Minnaert, thanks for talking to us about this holiday!

LYNN MINNAERT: Thank you for having me.

GRINDON: There are a number of fictional holidays invented by TV shows. Festivus, from Seinfeld, springs to mind. So how common is it for a fictional holiday to become a real-world marketing opportunity for restaurants and other businesses?

MINNAERT: Any kind of holiday in a sense is a social construct that we all agree to celebrate, right? Like Valentine's Day. And of course, as a commercial organization, like a restaurant, you want to take advantage of it, particularly if they fall during a really quiet time. January, February is a dead time for restaurants. Everyone's eaten enough over the holidays. And so this kind of holiday, I'm not surprised that they would jump on.

GRINDON: Why do you think Galentine's Day has had particular success?

MINNAERT: Well, I think women are usually very happy to spend time together, to be vulnerable, and to also support one another in a very obvious and visible way, right? Something that men unfortunately, don't always feel they can do in the same way. That society doesn't accept that in the same way, as women. I'm not sure, if we were to come up with a "bromance" day, whether people would necessarily react the same way, which is sad for the guys, because I wish they could hang out and have a good time together, just like the girls.

GRINDON: Is promoting weird, obscure or fictional holidays, as a strategy, something that you have ever talked about with students?

MINNAERT: We have, in a sense. You know, Restaurant Week started out like that. Restaurant week started here in New York, as a way just to get people to eat out in January, when nobody wants to eat out. It's not necessarily a holiday, but now it does feel like a thing, a tradition, something that we celebrate, right? Now, one thing I did want to say is: Had the restaurant industry been at the heart of this, they would have made sure that Galentine's Day was during the week, because a Sunday is a pretty strong day for restaurants anyway. So had it been purely a restaurant initiative, they would have made sure it would have been like on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, when usually a restaurant's not as busy. So the fact that it comes from a TV show, I think makes it a bit less purely commercial, and more something that is serendipitous and fun.

GRINDON: You've lived and worked in Belgium and in the UK. Does anyone in the rest of the world know about or celebrate this holiday?

MINNAERT: I don't think it's as prominent yet. What the US is particularly brilliant at is marketing something pretty simple as something groundbreaking and new and innovative and I think it will spread. Yes, I can see my friends back home being very much in love with this concept.

GRINDON: Do you have any plans to celebrate Valentine's Day yourself?

MINNAERT: I didn't before but now that I've spoken to you, I think I might!

GRINDON: Well, happy Galentine's Day in advance. And thank you so much for talking to us.

MINNAERT: Thank you!

GRINDON: That was Lynn Minnaert professor at NYU’s Tisch Center of Hospitality.


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