February marks yet another Valentine’s Day, however, this year, the national health pandemic is causing restaurants and chefs alike to explore divergent celebratory dining options for local couples.

Community food favorites including Blue Dolphin, and various fine dining eateries are not able to present their annual entertainment for the love festivities per Maryland state, and District mandates.

“Our main concern is for our employees, and keeping them safe so they can stay employed,” said Blue Dolphin Seafood Bar and Grill Manager, Brian McCann. “I want people to feel safe and comfortable, as we will continue practicing safety protocols.”

Last year, the four-star restaurant presented a Valentine’s Day music special for guests, with an imitation of Luther Vandross singing classics for attending audiences. However, COVID operating restrictions have forced the business to cancel their scheduled plans, now accommodating only 50% capacity in respect to the latest mandates.

On Feb. 1, Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the 10 p.m. closing ban on bars and restaurants, allowing couples longer dining availability, but with one-hour sitting windows.

Nom, a food entertainment company founded by Maryland business owner Tyler Davis, is hosting a bevy of meal-centered events for clientele across the D.C. metropolitan area to shake up the mundanity of life under COVID-19.

While Igloo dining has served as a trendy eating option in a few fine dining establishments, the business looks to bring a more personable experience to customers, providing underrepresented chefs with direct access to consumers, and a high-quality kitchen space to operate.

For Valentine’s Day weekend, the group is hosting a series of events for those seeking a personal chef experience beyond private dining, inclusive of a five-course meal in the form of cooking classes where couples can learn, and enjoy great meals, virtual cooking classes, and several other presentations.

“The feedback has been overwhelming. I feel like people are connecting more with in-person experiences versus virtual. Our in-person experiences are booked and sold out, and people have requested their own private events,” said Davis. “Mostly, Nom is invite-only, so you can work with us to create your own, and people are wanting that personal experience in their homes, or for us to provide the facility.”

The newly emerging business just so happens to be launching on Valentine’s Day weekend, hosting their premier events throughout the holiday weekend.

Amid the health emergency, local Washingtonians debate best practices for this year’s Valentine’s Day in consideration of the safety protocols needed to keep safe while enjoying their weekend plans.

“Honestly, this year I don’t have a Valentine, so I decided to book a private chef to come to my parents’ house to cook for them,” said Ernest Cowan. “But for myself, if I liked someone I probably would have done the same, just because I don’t like to go out for Valentine’s Day per se. I enjoy cooking, or booking a rental, or being out of town. Doing something different.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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