Restaurant Grand Opening
You’ve put in the hard work of getting your restaurant ready to open, so why not take advantage of opening day to draw attention to your new business? A grand opening is a great way to create buzz in the local community. This event will serve as your first chance to invite customers into your establishment, showcase your menu offerings, and start building the relationships necessary for repeat business. Follow the tips and advice below to get the most out of your business’s big day.
Begin Planning Your Grand Opening Early
Before the grand opening of your restaurant, you will want to be sure you have a proper plan in place for that day. Being prepared ahead of time allows you to focus and enjoy the big day. Start by creating a master list of everything you want to do, including a time frame for each task, estimated expenses, and who is able to help with which tasks.
Here are a few areas to focus on when you begin planning your grand opening:
- Pick a day for your event: When choosing a day, be aware of upcoming events in the area to avoid competing for customers.
- Select a time frame: How long will you host a grand opening? Decide if you want a breakfast, lunch, or dinner crowd and for how many hours you’re prepared to stay open.
- Recruit volunteers or hire employees: Give yourself enough time to find and train employees for the grand opening. Or, gather volunteers willing to help out.
- Select entertainment: Decide if you want to offer entertainment and book talent early. This could include bands, DJ’s, comedians, clowns for the children, or a local celebrity or sport's mascot.
- Set a budget: Create a budget early in the planning process to avoid overspending on an extravagant affair.
- Decide on a style of service: Begin working on your menu for the big day. Will you offer a full or limited menu, sample platters, or an altered service such as buffet-style?
Host a Soft Opening
Host a “soft opening” for a limited number of guests to test the staff, the flow, and the atmosphere of your restaurant before the grand opening. This gives you and your staff a chance to iron out any kinks before you open your doors to the public.
Use this opportunity to get helpful feedback from friendly faces before opening to the public. Allow enough time between the soft opening and grand opening to potentially rework your menu, service style, or atmosphere. Waiting too long, however, could cause community excitement to die down and potential customers to forget or lose interest.
Give Customers a Reason to Visit
While this might go without saying, it’s important to offer your grand opening attendees something that they’ll want badly enough to come to your event. Offer a taste of your signature dishes that best summarizes your restaurant’s offerings.
Get creative with what you choose to serve, but be sure to stay on-brand in order to give guests a clear understanding of what they can expect from your menu. Other than offering free samples, you can also hand out loyalty cards, coupons for free products on the customer's next visit, or a buy-one-get-one deal.
When deciding how to encourage patrons to come to your grand opening and keep coming back to your restaurant, ask yourself the following questions:
- What grand opening specials will you offer to customers?
- What will you do to encourage repeat business from patrons attending your grand opening?
- How will you ensure you’re encouraging your target market to come to your restaurant?
Become Involved with Community Events
Before your official opening, start building buzz around your restaurant by getting involved with local events and going where your potential customers go. Give the public a taste of your culinary or confectionary creations by setting up a stand at local farmers markets or community events.
Hand out samples or sell items from your menu and inform customers of your upcoming opening. Use a catering tray and paper food trays to easily display and hand out the samples. You may also want to hand out menu samples to get customers excited for other menu items as well as invitations to your soft or grand opening. Giving them a taste of your menu will entice them to try more when you release the full menu.
Offer Charitable Donations to Community Events
When trying to spread the word about your business through local events, consider partnering with a well-known charity. Not only will this relationship help debut your restaurant, but it will also show that you are passionate about a cause that may be close to your customers' hearts.
Offer to donate a portion or all of the proceeds of that day to the charity. It gives a personal touch and benefits those in need. Customers will love seeing a business getting involved for a cause.
Spread the Word about Your Opening
There are several savvy ways to promote your business’s grand opening. From social media to printed flyers, here are a few ways you can hit your target market when advertising for your event.
Use Social Media
Social media is a budget-friendly way to quickly spread the news about your event. Incorporate the following tips into your social media strategy to create interest before your grand opening:
- Offer deals and contests exclusively for followers
- Give out free perks for followers before your grand opening
- Incorporate hashtags into your posts to make it easy for patrons to find you
- Team up with community-wide forums or groups
- Create Facebook events to have potential customers RSVP online
- Post pictures of your new space, menu items, and employees to drum up excitement
Hand Out Flyers
Depending on your target market, creating printed invitations, flyers, and postcards may be a more effective approach. Send a postcard to households who may be interested in your restaurant. For example, if you’re opening a family restaurant, send out flyers to households with young children. Another option is to have your flyers included in the local newspaper.
Offer a discount or free perks like a complimentary drink or dessert with a meal on your flyers to encourage patrons to check out the restaurant. Drawing customers in to your grand opening with a free pastry or appetizer can lead to repeat business once your restaurant officially opens.
Be sure to include all the important information on your flyers or postcards before sending them out to customers. Here’s what should be included on the postcard:
- Your business’s name and logo
- Any discount or free item coupons
- Personalized message to invite customers
- Date and location
- Images of the restaurant or your specialty dishes
- Social media links
- Phone number, especially if reservations are recommended
Place Signage around Your Restaurant
Sidewalk signs and wooden signs are a great way to let passersby know of the grand opening. Advertise the grand opening, the date, and the deals on signs or with window markers. The wooden signs can also be used to display the specials or the most anticipated items on the menu in colorful liquid chalk. After the opening, the signs can continue to be used to advertise deals and new menu or seasonal items.
Contact Local Media Outlets
Local newspapers and television stations often cover the openings of new businesses in the area, so don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know where and when your grand opening will be. The free publicity could attract a crowd of customers who may not have heard about your event. Additionally, you could invite a reviewer from the local newspaper to your soft or grand opening.
When inviting local media to come to your restaurant, be prepared with important information. Put together a media kit including your restaurant’s menu, business hours, business card, and any additional information that may be important for them to know.
If you are able, designate an employee on staff to handle all professional communications and public relations matters. This person can handle communicating with the various media outlets, writing all press releases, and overall, serving as the face of your business.
The success of the grand opening can make a name for your restaurant early and continue to build over the years as customers return. They will spread the news to their friends by word of mouth. Showing loyalty to your customers from the beginning can benefit you for years.