As everyone knows, romance is best served scattered, smothered and peppered, which is why Waffle House has been a Valentine's Day destination for tasteful, discriminating lovers for more than a decade now.

The tradition began in 2008 at the Waffle House in John’s Creek, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta. Couples would often come to that location to celebrate Valentine's Day, so the manager began catering to swooning sweethearts by setting out white tablecloths and candles.

Not every Waffle House location participates in the promotion, but more than 200 restaurants around the country are currently accepting Valentine's Day reservations. None in Sarasota or Bradenton are, but if you're up for a short drive, a Punta Gorda Waffle House is upping their game for Valentine's Day.

Dave Robbins, the general manager of the Punta Gorda restaurant, says tables will be spruced up with black tablecloths and napkins and the lights will be dimmed. The dinner menu is a $20 prix fixe affair, with your choice of a T-bone steak, a pork chop or a chicken entrée, plus bread, a salad and a waffle dessert.

The restaurant doesn't have a liquor license, but you will receive a complimentary flute of sparkling grape juice. A photo booth will be set up for you to record your night out, as well. Robbins says the restaurant will maintain its normal Covid-19 safety protocols, which include Plexiglass partitions between booths and hourly sanitizing procedures.

According to Robbins, around 20 reservations have already been made, and he expects the rest of the openings to fill up between now and Valentine's Day. Robbins' location is one of only seven in Florida that are hosting special Valentine's Day meals. He says the reason why he's doing it is simple: "I thought it would be fun."

The participating Waffle House is located at 1225 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda. To make a Valentine's Day reservation, call Robbins at (941) 626-8768.

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