Feb 14, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Valentine's Day: Today's newsletter — edited by a very-single Justin Green — is 415 words, a 1.5 minute read.

Situational awareness:

  1. Michael Avenatti has been convicted for attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike. Go deeper.
  2. The U.S. reached an initial deal with the Taliban that could begin a drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan. Go deeper.
1 big thing: V-Day doesn't pay (as much)

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tonight's expensive — and hopefully romantic — prix fixe dinner for two isn't as lucrative for the restaurant industry as you might think.

Why it matters: Valentine's Day "ranked 94th in the year for consumer spending at local places nationwide" in 2019, Bloomberg reports, lower than Cinco de Mayo and a bunch of regular Saturdays.

  • The "turnover is slower as couples linger longer than on an average night. And it’s hard to orchestrate an entire evening of tables for two, says Hakan Swahn, owner of Manhattan’s two-Michelin-starred Aquavit."

Between the lines: Last year's slow V-Day could be partially due to the day of the week, a Thursday.

  • "Of the top 50 days of the year for customer spending at local restaurants in 2019, 30 were Saturdays and 19 were Fridays; the only exception was Mother’s Day."

What's next: If you're going out, prepare to pay up.

  • "Restaurant prices climbed 3.1% in January from a year earlier, matching the fastest annual increase for that month since 2009," the WSJ reports.

Go deeper: Axios' deep dive on dating, published last Valentine's Day

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

A man swims in a snow-covered lake in Beijing.

  • Meanwhile, in Antarctica, a 69.3°F temperature was recorded just days after the world's coldest continent hit a record-breaking 65°F. Go deeper.
2. What you missed
  1. Five public labs across the U.S. will work with the CDC to use its existing flu surveillance network to test individuals with flu-like symptoms for the novel coronavirus. Go deeper.
  2. Justice Department news: President Trump claimed a "legal right" to ask for AG Bill Barr's intervention into criminal cases. In other DOJ news, the investigation of Andrew McCabe was dropped and outside prosecutors have reportedly been assigned to look at Michael Flynn's case.
  3. Another Democratic debate is slated for March 15 in Phoenix, days before the Arizona primary. Go deeper.
  4. Reigning Premier League champion Manchester City will be banned from European soccer competitions for two seasons in response to "serious breaches" of financial regulations. Go deeper.
3. 1 golden idea

For the snowbird in your life: Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport is introducing a long-term coat check service ($2 a day) for people who want to be warm getting to the airport on their way to sunny locales.

Screenshot: Twitter
  • "Travelers had been asking for the service, with 'where can I leave my coat?' being one of the top questions asked at the airport's information desk," USA Today reports.
  • "The airport is prepared to handle as many coats as people drop off, whether 100 or 1,000 or more."
Mike Allen