The distance between Seattle and the nearest Waffle House (1340 miles) or White Castle (1670 miles) effectively wipes out the cost savings associated with celebrating Valentine's Day at the two chains most strongly associated with affordable romance, but a Washington fast food restaurant also has a deal for thrifty lovebirds.
Burgerville (83 miles) today is offering a $14 "sweetheart meal," featuring two Tillamook cheeseburgers; large fries; large specialty milkshake -- think cherry chocolate with two straws -- and a pair of Ghirardelli chocolate squares.
When Waffle House a few years ago debuted its Valentine program, the concept was covered and smothered in irony. The idea of putting white tablecloths and candles on Waffle House tables resonated with hipsters wary of taking the holiday too seriously. But the limping economy has helped make the event more attractive to sincere couples whose budgets restrict them to non-alcoholic sparkling wine and pork chop platters, prompting more restaurants to follow suit. (Full disclosure: My husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day this weekend with chopped liver and pastrami sandwiches at Kenny & Zuke's.)
According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine's Day generates $17.6 billion in spending, and a good chunk of that sum is devoted to food and drink expenses. Time reports New York couples anticipate spending, on average, $147 for Valentine's dinner -- which may be why 11 percent of survey respondents told Zagat they planned to split the Valentine's check.
The Counter doesn't have any Valentine tie-ins, but spokesperson Lindsey Henn said she was "happy to see how the traffic is expected to be." Other chains aren't taking any chances on losing customers to fancier restaurants: Papa John's and Papa Murphy's this year are proposing celebrants mark the holiday with a heart-shaped pizza, and White Castle is offering a free dessert to couples who reserve a Valentine's Day table. And dozens more Waffle House locations are dimming the lights for Valentine's Day. As a restaurant spokesperson told Slashfood back in 2010, "once you get there, you realize it's as cool a place as anywhere else."